Gems claim Bronze behind stunning comeback over Spain

Gems claim Bronze behind stunning comeback over Spain

The Australian Gems U19 Women’s basketball team secured their first medal since 1997, winning Bronze overnight in a thrilling come-from-behind victory over Spain, clinching victory 73-68, to finish third overall in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship for Women in Lithuania.

Down by as many as 17 points in the third term, the Gems pulled off a stunning comeback, fuelled by their defensive pressure and highlighted by an 11 minute second-half stretch that held Spain to just three points.

The win reversed the result against the Spaniards from earlier in the tournament, Australia going down comprehensively, by 18 points.

The catalysts for the comeback were Aussie duo Carley Mijovic and Stephanie Talbot, who sparked an incredible 15-0 run by the Gems to start the fourth quarter, which helped turn the game on its head.

Mijovic finished with a game-high 25 points for the Gems, hitting 50 per cent from the field, while Talbot hit 7 of 9 field goal attempts, to finish with a stat-line of 22 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 steal.

Spain finished with a much more even scoring spread, five players registering double-figures in points, led by Leticia Romero Gonzalez with 16 points, and star-centre Astou Ndour finishing with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks.

The match started very evenly, with Australia leading 10-7 midway through the first term, before Spain closed with an 8-3 run to lead by two points after 10 minutes of action.

Australia struggled offensively in the second quarter, Spain doubling their score in the term 24-12, with the Gems relying heavily on two players, Stephanie Talbot, who scored Australia’s first 7 points, and Carley Mijovic, who scored the other 5 points, to trail 39-25 at halftime.

The pain continued for the Aussies early in the second half, with a three-point basket from Spain’s Rodriguez Ortego giving her side a 17-point lead, 48-31.

But Spain would score just three points more for the rest of the term, as Australia ramped up their defensive intensity to reduce the margin to just eight points after three quarters.

Heading into the final term down 51-43, the Gems went on an amazing 15-0 run, holding Spain scoreless for more-than 6 minutes of action, before the Gems finally took the lead, 52-51, on a Carley Mijovic basket, and quickly pushed ahead by as many as seven points.

But Spain would not be broken, staying with the Gems until, with an Aussie lead of 69-68 with 27 seconds remaining in the contest, Stephanie Talbot knocked down two free-throws, before a Mijovic block and Talbot steal led to Alex Wilson getting to the line at the other end to secure the victory with 11 seconds remaining. She sunk both free throws to give the final scores.

Stephanie Talbot had the added honour of being named among the five players selected for the All-Tournament Team of the Championship, an outstanding achievement that saw her alongside MVP Breanna Stewart of the USA, Olivia Epoupa of France, Jamie Weisner of Canada, and Spain’s Astou Ndour.

Talbot averaged 13.2 points per game for the tournament, with a better than 54 per cent field goal average, as well as finishing as Australia’s leader in rebounds (7.8 per game) and assists (5.3 per game). Her all-round contributions were highlighted by the rare triple-double statistical performance of 16 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists, against Japan.

In the other medal match, the USA claimed a fifth-straight gold medal for their U19 women, holding France to just 28 points for the contest, winning 61-28.

Australian Gems 73 (Mijovic 25, Talbot 22, Garbin 8, Tupaea 8) defeated Spain 68 (Romero Gonzalez 16, Ndour 14, Rodriguez Ortego 11)

Box Score

Stephanie Talbot named to All-Tournament Team