2021 Under 19s World Cup: Semi-Finals

IN the end it was the two favourites that reached the 2021 Under 19s Women’s World Cup with the powerhouse United States team ending home nation Hungary’s run, whilst Australia cut short Mali’s historic World Cup performance.

United States (75) defeated Hungary (42)

There was no messing around for the United States who have clinically taken apart any side they have faced in the World Cup, and it was no different with Hungary, putting the foot down from the first tip-off. The United States piled on 13 points to five in the opening term, and lead by 20 at the main break. That continued into the second half with a 28-17 third term before easing up in the last for a 12-10 quarter but still recording a huge 33-point semi-final win, 75-42.

The United States controlled the boards with 56-33 rebounds, and shot at a higher rate from both inside the arc (41.7 to 27 per cent) and outside the arc (33.3 to 24 per cent). They also punished the opposition from turnovers (27-17) and scored the only fast break points of the game (13-0), as well as winning the battle in the paint (34-8) and second chance points (20-8), whilst holding a lead of as much as 35 points at one stage, never conceding it at any point during the match.

Sonia Citron delivered a team-high 17 points, as well as eight rebounds, two assists and two steals, but she was far from alone. Diamond Johnson (14 points, four steals, three rebounds and two assists) and Caitlin Clark (14 points – four from seven from long-range – two rebounds and two assists) both hit double-figure points, while Azzi Fudd (nine points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals) was the next highest, and Sania Feagin (six points, 11 rebounds and three assists) was impactful off the boards.

Julia Boros yet again led the way for Hungary, amassing 14 points – including three of seven from beyond the arc – and five rebounds. Melinda Miklos also produced some long-range makes for her 11 points – three of five from three-point range – and two steals, while Zsuzsanna Sitku‘s six points was the other player to have more than five in the loss for the home nation.

Australia (62) defeated Mali (50)

Australia has a chance of revenge against the United States having lost to the top ranked nation earlier in the tournament, following their impressive 12-point win over Mali. The African nation was the first from the continent to reach the semi-finals of the Under 19s World Cup, but it was the Australians who spoiled the party courtesy of a seven-point half-time lead. Mali refused to throw in the towel though and fought through an incredibly low-scoring third quarter (9-7) to cut back to five at the last change, before Australia stepped up again to win the final term 24-7 and secure the 62-50 victory.

Mali actually won the rebounds (51-47) with their offensive boards (21-8) the key difference to keeping them in the game. The Aussies were far more clinical with their shooting, hitting 35 to 22 per cent of their first goal attempts, with 11 less shots, but five more makes from the field. They also won the assists (15-12) and had more points from the bench (21-10), but Mali capitalised on second chance points (10-2) and always worried the Australians throughout the clash.

Jade Melbourne (19 points, eight rebounds and five assists) and Nyadiew Puoch (16 points, nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks) led the way for the winners, continuing their superb tournament. Kate Deeble nailed three of seven from beyond the arc on her way to 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists, whilst Shaneice Swain was the next best, amassing six points and three rebounds in the match.

For Mali, it was Sika Kone who was unstoppable close to the boards, dominating with 19 rebounds – 13 defensive – and recording 15 points and two assists in the process. Aminata Brahima Sangare also impacted close to the basket with 10 rebounds to go with five points and two assists, while Kamite Elisabeth Dabou had 12 points for her troubles in the loss.

Picture credit: FIBA

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