A tough battle with Australia ends in defeat for GB Women in their final pool game of the IWBF World Championships.
Written by Omer Hagomer
Jade Atkin secured the first possession for GBR and scored a crisp layup in transition. Georgia Cook drew the game for Australia from the mid-range. GBR took the lead as Joy Haizelden scored under the basket, while J. Atkin was in the zone and stretched the lead for GBR. Australia called for a timeout as GBR were bringing the heat on offense and Helen Freeman converted a 3-point play.
Amber Merritt launched 2 shots to quickly obtain 4 points. Freeman responded with 2 points from the mid-range. GBR led by 5 points halfway through the first quarter.
Wide open looks rolled out for GBR, so they called for a timeout with 2 minutes to go in the quarter. Australia were defending well, and Hannah Dodd rewarded her teammates with 2 points.
Haizelden and Freeman responded with a picture-perfect pick & roll for 2 points. J. Atkin was a challenging presence on defence and Freeman beat the buzzer to extend the lead of GBR, at the end of the first quarter, GBR 17:12 AUS.
Merritt opened the second quarter with 2 points from the baseline for Australia. The gliders relied on defensive rebounds and scored in transition to reduce the lead. Cook gave AUS a 1-point lead after a shot inside the key.
Both teams traded shots, but Georgia Inglis maintained a 3-point lead for AUS with a one-handed shot. Jude Hamer replaced J. Atkin. Freeman was outstanding from the 45-degree angle. The British were sharing the ball effectively, and captain Sophie Carrigill got on the scoreboard with a pick & roll.
Freeman was unstoppable from the mid-range, although AUS were efficient in transition and held onto the lead heading into half-time. GBR called for a timeout with two minutes remaining in the quarter and Maddie Martin checked in for Haizelden. Hamer was heavily guarded on offense but found the space to fire for 2 points. At half-time, GBR 29:32 AUS.
In the third quarter, the dynamic Martin got on the scoresheet with a beautiful layup. Charlotte Moore was composed under pressure and scored after an assist by Freeman. Freeman was back to take over, she thrived under the pressure on defence. A timeout was called with five minutes remaining in the quarter.
Hamer found her rhythm and drained a shot through the screen. The Australians were physical on the defensive end, consequently, Freeman made 1/2 from the free throw line. Cook tied the game up heading into the last quarter, GBR 38:38 AUS.
Hamer gave GBR a 4-point lead with precise shots. Towards the end of the quarter, Australia made a few substitutions and reduced the lead to 2 points, GBR 42:40 AUS. In the fourth quarter, Haizelden and J. Atkin were back on court. Hamer continued her positive influence with more points, yet Merritt was determined to give AUS the lead.
The atmosphere was highly competitive, a must win situation for both countries. J. Atkin tied the game after a curl by Carrigill, GBR 46:46 AUS, she was magnet for defensive rebounds.
A timeout was called with five minutes to go in the game. Cook and Merritt were the difference makers for Australia. The British basket rained points in the last few minutes of the game and Australia began to take a lead. GBR called for two timeouts in the final proceedings, as Cook closed the game with 1/2 from the free throw line, GBR 53:62 AUS.
GB Women’s captain Sophie Carrigill commented:
“It hurts. It is really tough. I think we fought really hard as we have done for this whole tournament, and it just was not our day sadly. I am really proud of the team, I have got nothing but absolute admiration for everyone in this team and just so much love. The vibes have been incredible all this time we have been here, and I think that speaks a lot for where this team is going to go.”
“Obviously this one will hurt and it will hurt for a while but we are going to rebuild over the summer. We have got a big tournament in August – our European Championships, which is qualification for Paris, so that is the focus. We will continue to work hard to make sure we are in a better place, and performing and dominating when we are there.”
Moore (2), S. Carrigill (2), K. Bell, H. Freeman (20), J. Hamer (13), L. Robinson, S. Fitzpatrick, J. Haizelden (4), J. Atkin (10), M. Martin (2), E. Fraser, A.