USA Women Break From Great Britain 85-33, Advance To Medal Quarterfinals
Aug. 16, 2011 • Shenzhen, China
Skylar Diggins (Notre Dame/South Bend, Ind.) posted game-highs of 13 points, four assists and six steals as the 2011 USA Basketball Women’s World University Games Team (3-0) separated early from Great Britain (1-2) and went on to collect a 85-33 victory on Tuesday evening in Shenzhen, China.
The well-rounded scoring, which saw all 12 members of the U.S. put up points before halftime, also featured Elena Delle Donne (Delaware/Wilmington, Del.) and Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford/Cypress, Texas) with 10 points apiece.
“I thought defensively that was probably the best we’ve played,” said Bill Fennelly, USA World University Games Team and Iowa State University head coach. “We started a little bit slow and I don’t know if it’s because it was our first night game after our two morning games. But, Great Britain had a couple players who were not playing. That’s another thing, we anticipated a different line-up and when you don’t see it, sometimes you relax. Overall, we had three pool games where we played really well. Tonight was a good way to finish it.”
The USA advances to the medal quarterfinal round, where it will face Finland (2-1) on Aug. 18 (8:30 a.m. EDT). Should the U.S. win, it will play the winner of the Australia (3-0) versus Canada (1-1) quarterfinals game in the Aug. 19 semifinals. The other side of the medal quarterfinal bracket features Taiwan (3-0) against Brazil (2-1), while Russia (2-0) will face Sweden (2-1). The finals will be held on Aug. 21.
“(Playing in the medal round is) like going into the NCAA Tournament,” stated Diggins. “Everyone’s level of play has to step up. We definitely have to take advantage of the day off tomorrow and rest our bodies because we know every team is going to be coming after us. They’ll be banding together to beat us. This team has to have the mind-set that we have the biggest target on our back and we have to perform up to Coach Fennelly’s standards, which is perfection at times. We can do perfection in stretches. We just have to make sure that we buy in. We have to be focused and ready. Now, it’s anybody’s game. It’s 0-0 and a lot of teams are just as hungry for that gold medal as we are.”
Chiney Ogwumike netted all four of her attempts from the stripe to put the USA up 4-0 with the game just 34 seconds old as the Americans never trailed in the contest. With the score listing 15-11, the stars and stripes went on an 8-0 run over the final 1:28 to end the period ahead 23-11.
“We had a little bit of a slow start, so we pulled the starting team out and talked to them a little bit about some defensive things and they went back in,” said Fennelly. “Our pressure defense, coach Flo (Terri Williams-Flournoy) put in a 2-2-1 press, and it really changed the game when we went to that.”
After scoring the first bucket of the second quarter to close the gap to 10 points, 23-13, Great Britain had no answer for the USA’s defensive press. The tenacious defense sparked the American women’s speedy transition offense, resulting in a 9-0 run that spanned just 1:20 of play and with 8:00 to go before half, the USA’s lead was up to 32-13. The Brits continued to crack under the stress and managed just two more field goals in the remainder of the quarter as the U.S. continued its onslaught, outscoring its opponents 21-4 to take a commanding 53-17 halftime lead.
“Skylar’s on-ball pressure is relentless,” added Fennelly. “She just totally took them out of their offense and picked them for layups a couple times, too. When you have someone at the point of your defense dictating the pressure and dictating how the game is played, it’s hard for the other guy. Certainly that was the case tonight.”
During the USA’s 30-6 second-quarter barrage, the red, white and blue nabbed seven of its 22 steals for the game and pressured Great Britain into coughing up the ball eight times and shooting just 3-of-16 from the field.
“Our guards, especially Skylar (Diggins) and Odyssey (Sims) were able to pressure their point guards and make it hard for them to get into their offense,” said Delle Donne. “When they finally got into their offense, the shot clock was going down. So, our guards did an amazing job putting on that pressure and disrupting them.”
Continuing to put on the pressure, the red, white and blue allowed just four field goals in the second half as it outscored Great Britain 14-7 in the third quarter and 18-9 in the final stanza to close out the night with the 85-33 win.
In addition to the double-digit scorers, the all-around team effort was bolstered by nine points from Shekinna Stricklen (Tennessee/Morrilton, Ark.) and eight apiece from Jacki Gemelos (USC/Stockton, Calif.) and Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Stanford/Cypress, Texas). Glory Johnson (Tennessee/Knoxville, Tenn.) grabbed a team-best eight rebounds to go with her five points and five assists.
The U.S., which struggled from the line in its first two contests (.618), knocked down 88.2 percent (15-17 FTs) of its tries from the charity stripe against Great Britain. The red, white and blue dominated on both ends of the court, outrebounding the Europeans 55-38, scoring 22 points off of 32 turnovers and limiting the British to an icy cold 18.2 percent (12-66 FGs) shooting from the field, including an even more frigid 5.6 percent (1-18 FGs) from 3-point land. In contrast, the U.S., which scored 26 fast-break points, hit 46.6 percent (34-73 FGs) of its field goals and gave up just two points from its 22 turnovers.
Great Britain was led by University of Maryland center Yemi Oyefuwa, who had nine points and eight rebounds.
The World University Games are a multi-sport competition organized every other year by the International University Sports Federation (FISU). The USA women’s basketball team is comprised of U.S. citizens who are currently enrolled in college and have remaining eligibility.
USA Basketball women’s teams have participated in 15 prior World University Games and collected a record seven gold medals, six silvers and one bronze medal. Since 1973, the first year the USA women competed in the WUGs, the United States has compiled an 89-15 overall record entering the 2011 event. In 2009, led by 2010 FIBA World Champion Tina Charles, the USA posted a 7-0 slate en route to the gold medal.