The Calypso Girls had won all four of the previous World Cup meetings between the two sides, with their last meeting also coming in a play-off game in the 2011 World Cup, to decide seventh and eighth place.
The two sides reached this match after Northern Ireland defeated Barbados, 46-43 in the final group game, whilst Trinidad and Tobago went through on head-to-head after a dramatic 43-43 draw with Scotland in their final Preliminaries stage two game.
Daystar Swift earned her 50th cap for Trinidad and Tobago but she could do little to disrupt the early attacking flow of Northern Ireland as they made five of their first six goal attempts to take an early 5-2 lead.
However, Northern Ireland captain Caroline O’Hanlon fell awkwardly midway through the quarter and had to be replaced by Neamh Woods. Trinidad and Tobago seized on the Warriors’ attempts to regroup from the change by reducing the deficit and then taking a 10-9 lead as Kalifa McCollin began to find her shooting range.
A loose Calypso Girl pass and interception from Northern Ireland kicked them back into action and Noleen Armstrong responded as the Warriors re-took the lead, keeping that advantage until the buzzer at the end of the quarter as they led 13-12.
O’Hanlon returned to the court at the beginning of the second quarter and there continued to be little to separate the two sides as the contest swung back and forth. Both sides were shooting strongly as after Armstrong missed her first goal attempt of the quarter, neither side missed a goal attempt until the tenth minute.
Turnovers were proving to be the key in the contest and Northern Ireland began to start making small errors which the Calypso Girls were able to punish, extending their lead to as many as six goals.
Samantha Wallace and McCollin couldn’t be stopped by the Warriors defence as they made all 17 of their goal attempts in the second quarter to lead 29-23 at the interval.
The six-goal advantage that Trinidad and Tobago began the third quarter with deviated in the early stages as they two teams took their scoring opportunities. Wallace and McCollin picked up where they had left off in the first two quarters for the Calypso Girls and left Northern Ireland frustrated every time they attempted to build momentum and eat into the deficit.
Trinidad and Tobago were controlling the tempo of the game extremely well and Northern Ireland struggled to force many turnovers. The lack of possession change meant their advantage was maintained and that was further helped by Emma Magee’s disappointing shooting as she only made five of her nine goal attempts in the quarter.
No such problems were occurring for the Calypso Girls, however, who again shot at 100% in the quarter. Despite a small flurry of goals for the Warriors at the end of the period, going into the final quarter, Trinidad and Tobago led 43-36.
Wallace continued to score at will as she made her all six of her shots to increase her side’s advantage in the opening five minutes of the final quarter. Shaunagh Craig, who replaced Armstrong for Northern Ireland, also enjoyed a positive opening to the quarter, scoring her first two goal attempts in that period.
The frustration continued for Northern Ireland who just couldn’t stop the impressive attacking play of Trinidad and Tobago and they were unable to reduce the deficit below the seven goals which it had been at the beginning of the quarter.
The lead grew to as many as 11 at one point as Wallace and McCollin’s shooting clinic continued and the Calypso Girls secured ninth place comfortably.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Daystar Swift said:
“Today we played more as a team. It’s something we have been working on. We’ve been trying to minimise our errors and be a lot more clinical with the ball and that has definitely worked in our favour today.
“We just continued to play the game as we know it and continued to play how we were taught to play.”
Northern Ireland’s Caroline O’Hanlon said:
“In the second quarter we made too many errors and gave them a run and they are too strong a team, they have too much quality and you can’t afford to do that.
“We showed patches of good play as we have done in the tournament, but inconsistencies cost us again. When you are playing against the quality that they have you just can’t afford to have those patches.”