Ipswich look to American to help upset Gladstone in final
BEING 17 points down and still able to win says a lot about this year's Ipswich Force women's state league team.
American import Brandi Brown experienced that first- hand, playing a key role in Ipswich's remarkable quarter-final win.
Force somehow overcame the huge deficit to beat Northside and advance to tonight's Queensland Basketball League semi-final in Gladstone.
However, Brown knows as well as her Ipswich teammates how Force can ill-afford to offer Gladstone such a huge start on such a demanding road trip.
"I think last Saturday was definitely a momentum builder but also we should put that game behind us,'' Brown said.
"We have to turn up and play a full 40 minute game, which I know that we are very capable of.
"We are capable of winning big games.
"I think we're feeling kind of unified.''
By her high standards, the Californian conceded she has been inconsistent in stages this season, struggling to get into the flow of some matches.
However, she has also been brilliant when needed in her second season with Force - like scoring a three-pointer with 10 seconds left to beat Mackay.
She also rose to the challenge in the second half of last weekend's 79-73 win over Northside.
"It was a must-win game for us. We all battled back,'' she said, scoring a vital 21 points.
"It hasn't been the best season that I wanted to be but I'm really happy for the way the team has played and I'm glad we're in the semi-finals.''
Brown, 23, previously played for Youngstown University in Ohio, being named the 2013 US National College Athletic Association (NCAA) League Player of the Year.
She averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds as one of only two players in the country to rank in the top 20 in both categories.
This season, she's averaged 13 points in her 18 games, being called on to do more defensive work. That's reflected in her 181 rebounds, the fifth highest in the league.
Despite some inconsistency on the court, she feels more relaxed.
"I definitely think this year I know my way around and am a little more settled,'' she said.
"I like it here.''
Brown regularly communicates with her family in the US to ease any homesickness.
The Force team drives to Gladstone this morning to prepare for the game.
Brown will return home after the state league finals to consider her future.
However, her focus is on tonight's game, buoyed by pushing Gladstone in their earlier clash Force only lost 77-75.
"It's encouraging and definitely motivating,'' Brown said knowing Force can play better.
Brown said linking with fellow American Chelsie Schweers was a terrific opportunity in a team strengthened by South Aus- tralian recruit Bree Farley and with some loyal Ipswich players.
"They (Schweers and Farley) are leaders and they really want to win,'' Brown said.
"I like playing with them.''
- QBL women's semi-final: tonight (6.30pm) - Ipswich Force v Gladstone in Gladstone.
- The Force women finished fifth overall (on percentages) with 12 wins and five losses behind Rockhampton (14 wins, three losses), Gladstone (13-4), Mackay (12-5) and Townsville (12-5).
- Ipswich qualified for the semi-final by beating Northside 79-73. Gladstone qualified by beating Mackay 88-72.