USA Women Advance To Medal Semifinals After Flying Past Finland 96-30
-- Five U.S. Players Score In Double Digits As All 11 Healthy Players Put Up Points --
Aug. 18, 2011 • Shenzhen, China
Opening with a 21-0 scoring spree, the 2011 USA Basketball Women’s World University Games Team (4-0) finished off Finland (2-2) 96-30 on Thursday night in Shenzhen, China. The medal quarterfinal win advances the U.S. squad to the 2011 World University Games semifinals, where it will face a strong and also unbeaten Australian (4-0) side on Aug. 19 (8:30 a.m. EDT).
All 11 available players scored as Elena Delle Donne (Delaware/Wilmington, Del.) and Devereaux Peters (Notre Dame/Chicago, Ill.) led five USA players in double figures with 17 points apiece. Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Stanford/Cypress, Texas) chipped in 12 points; Jacki Gemelos (USC/Stockton, Calif.) and Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford/Cypress, Texas) chipped in 10 points apiece; while Glory Johnson (Tennessee/Knoxville, Tenn.) scored eight points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds; and Skylar Diggins (Notre Dame/South Bend, Ind.) dished out seven of the USA’s 23 assists.
The other medal semifinal game will feature Taiwan (4-0) against Sweden (3-1). The semifinal winners will compete in the Aug. 21 gold medal game (9:30 a.m. EDT), while the losers will play for bronze earlier that evening (7:00 a.m. EDT). Australia advanced to the semifinals with a 79-44 defeat of Canada (1-2), while Taiwan defeated Brazil (2-2) 65-54 and Sweden (2-2) edged Russia (2-1) 68-60.
“Our effort was good, we defended really well,” said Bill Fennelly, USA World University Games Team and Iowa State University head coach. “We finished around the basket, and we made shots. Odyssey was resting a sore knee, so we had Shekinna Stricklen and Jackie Gemelos at the point, and I thought they did a good job of running our team. We played a pretty complete game from start to finish. But we turned the ball over 18 times, and our post players turned the ball over 13 times. We were 8-of-16 at the free throw line – you’re nit-picking a little bit, but as we head into the semifinals, those little things mean you either play for the bronze medal or the gold medal. We are going to have to clean some of those things up.”
Delle Donne hit back-to-back threes to open the game and followed up with a jumper at 8:42 for the contest’s first eight points. By the time the game was less than five minutes old, Finland had yet to score as the red, white and blue owned a 21-0 advantage at 5:28 in the first quarter. During that span, the U.S. players shot a red-hot 8-of-11 from the field, and two of their misses were followed up immediately with put-backs.
“We knew we wanted to come out with a strong start because we hadn’t done that very well, especially in our last game,” said Delle Donne, who also finished with six rebounds and three assists. “So we knew that was really important. We studied our scouting report really hard. Offensively, our shots were falling, and defensively, we were just attacking.”
By the time Finland got on the board at 4:02, it was clear the Europeans had no answer for the American women, and the game was shaping up to quickly get out of hand.
Outscoring the Fins 11-8 for the remainder of the quarter, by the first break the U.S. was well in command, 32-10, marking the only double-digit scoring quarter in the game by the Finnish team.
Nneka Ogwumike strung together her own 8-0 run in the opening minutes of the second quarter, and by halftime the U.S. offensive onslaught left the score at 53-17. The rebounding margin was a whopping 31-11 in favor of the red, white and blue.
Showing no let-up in the second half, the U.S. won the third quarter 20-7 and the fourth quarter 23-6.
“In the second half we were focused on running our plays and being a little bit crisper, not turning the ball over,” said Peters. “We had a lot of turnovers in the first half, so we were trying to cut those down.”
Finland’s largest scoring run was a five-point stretch in the middle of the fourth quarter, marking its final points of the game, to make it 79-30 with 7:18 still to play. The USA then went on a 17-0 run to close the contest.
Hanna Vapamaa scored six points to lead Finland.
The USA’s relentless defense forced 29 turnovers and held Finland to shooting just 16.7 percent 10-60 FGs) from the field and 16.1 percent (5-31 3pt FGs) from the line; while the USA’s offensive show produced 62 points in the paint, 32 second-chance points and 18 on the fast break. The U.S. also shot an even 50.0 percent from the field (41-82 FGs) and 37.5 percent (6-16 3pt FGs) from beyond the arc.
The USA is now focusing on Australia, which features four of its national team players on its World University Games roster and will be the team’s toughest opponent by far in this year’s tournament.
“Australia is a great team, and we know that,” said Fennelly. “They are big, they are physical. They have a lot of experience and a lot of professional players on that team. I feel like the boy that cried wolf trying to tell the team that a tough game is coming, and in the first four games it hasn’t. We’ll get a good game tomorrow. We’ve got to make our free throws and give the attention to detail that every coach talks about. It will be exciting, and I think it will be one of the better games of the tournament.”
Odyssey Sims (Baylor/Irving, Texas) was resting a sore right knee and did not play against Finland. It is anticipated that she will play in the USA’s semifinal contest.
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 and is now 93-15 all-time through its first four games of 2011. In 2009, led by 2010 FIBA World Champion Tina Charles, the USA posted a 7-0 slate en route to the gold medal.