The second semi-final at the 2019 Women’s U25 World Championship in Suphanburi, Thailand, was the game of the tournament so far, as Australia knocked out current U25 World Champions Great Britain, after a well-deserved 42-36 win.
The opening quarter saw strong defence from both sides as they struggled to score a basket for the first three minutes of the game. It was Australia who broke the deadlock, making the first basket of the game and setting the tempo for the first quarter to lead, 14-10.
Nevertheless, Great Britain turned on the full-court press to try and rattle Australia, and caused a few 8-second violations and a few more turnovers, but failed to take the lead and capitalise fully on these Australian errors. GB were forced to sub Maddie (Madeleine) Thompson out of the game towards the end of the first half as she picked up her third foul, which allowed Australia to take advantage of captain Annabelle Lindsay’s height and push out to a 7-point lead. GB continued to battle hard though, and thanks to a three pointer by GB’s Haizelden on the buzzer, they went in to half-time only down by two, 21-23.
With a final place still within reach for both teams, Great Britain came out after the break with renewed confidence and hit the opening basket to level it up. Both teams were finding their rhythm defensively, but both teams were struggling to convert consistently at the offensive end which kept the scoring low but the excitement high for the spectators. Australia held the edge going into the final quarter, 33-29.
The final quarter saw Lindsay continue to take advantage of her height from range adding to the tally and extending Australia out to a 6-point lead. Great Britain again turned to the press in the last five minutes of the game to try and turn the game around, forcing turnover after turnover for Australia, but they could not convert their chances, and with a shooting percentage of just 22% as a team, it wasn’t enough to overcome the Australian Devils who took the victory, 42-36.
Australia will now meet USA in the final tomorrow (Tuesday 28th May) at 17:15 (local time) in the Suphanburi Indoor Stadium. Great Britain will play for bronze against Japan at 15:00.
Australia’s Mary Friday said, “We are so excited to have won that game and make the final. We came into this tournament aiming for the bronze medal, we were just like as long as we make it to bronze it’s all we wanted. Our coaches back home said as long as you get top four that will be good enough, but just knowing that we’ve made it to the top two is absolutely amazing.
“I did expect a close game, I’d seen a lot of the GB girls play at Osaka already so I knew what to expect a little bit, but I did believe in us and I definitely thought we could beat them.”
Great Britain’s Head Coach, Miles Thompson, said:
“We got 75 shot attempts they got 48, and if you hear that kind of number you are like we are going to be in really good shape, but it was just one of those nights. I don’t know how many times that ball rimmed in and we thought it’s going to fall and it just didn’t happen and we couldn’t put back to back baskets together. The fourth quarter they couldn’t beat our press, they couldn’t get the ball across half-court and still we struggled to get that basket that was really going to spark the flame. But you’ve got to hand it to Australia, they were composed, I thought they were really well coached, they just stayed under on us the whole time, didn’t let us play to our strengths which was playing in transition finding seams and gaps and playing with speed. We really had to slow the game down and it wasn’t our night.”