U19 Women Defeat Australia in Exhibition2015 USA Women’s U19 World Championship Team Earns Hard-Fought, 85-82 Exhibition Victory Over Australia
-- USA Basketball Veteran A’ja Wilson Posts 30 Points, 11 Rebounds To Lead U.S. To Win --
2015 USA U19 World Championship Team captain A’ja Wilson (South Carolina/Hopkins, S.C.) contributed game-highs of 30 points and 11 rebounds, and shot a perfect 14-of-14 from the line to lead the USA (1-0) to a hard-fought, 85-82 exhibition victory over Australia’s U19 squad (0-1) on Sunday evening in Mercia, Spain.
In a game that went down to the wire, and included 10 knotted scores, the U.S. was also bolstered in the victory by 12 points from Crystal Dangerfield (Blackman H.S./Murfreesboro, Tenn.), who scored 10 points in the second half, including a pair of free throws with 10 seconds remaining to ice the win, and dished out four assists; and Mariya Moore (Louisville/Richmond, Calif.), who contributed 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
“Australia played extremely hard and scrappy,” said USA U19 and University of South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley. “They were able to stay in the game. I think it was good for our players to get a chance to see that style of play, make adjustments and hopefully we’ll play a little bit better as we get more and more games under our belt.
“It took us awhile to adjust to this style of play,” added Staley, whose team shot 32.4 percent (11-34 FGs) in the first half, before making 43.2 percent (16-37 FGs) in the second half. “Sometimes when you play against our style of play, like we played against the U.S. Pan American Games Team, it gives you a false sense of what it’s really like. But coming over and playing in Europe and playing against some of the best teams in the world in this age category is much different.”
“I feel like it was a great game for us to get used to the international style of play,” said Wilson, who won gold as a member of the 2013 USA U19 World Championship Team and 2014 USA U18 National Team. “It’s been awhile since I’ve played (internationally), and it’s new to some people. So, I think it was a great game for us to really get out there and play against a different style of basketball. It was tough. It was very tough, but I’m glad we got the win.”
The contest was the first game in a July 12-14 round-robin tournament between U19 teams from Australia, Canada (0-1), Spain (1-0) and the USA. In tonight’s second game, Spain defeated Canada 63-53.
The U.S. will face Canada on July 13 (12 p.m. EDT) and close the exhibition tournament against host Spain on July 14 (2:45 p.m. EDT).
Heading into the final stanza with a two-point lead, the USA swapped buckets with Australia over the first few minutes of the quarter. After back-to-back baskets from the USA, which put the Americans up by four points, 68-64 at 7:17, Australia called for a time out.
Coming out of the mini-break, the USA slowly eased out to its largest lead of the game, 79-69, with 3:50 to play. However, the momentum swung to Australia’s side, and the USA’s lead slowly diminished. An Aussie 3 at 1:03, followed by a field goal with 14 seconds remaining made it a one-point game, 83-82, in favor of the United States.
Forced to foul to stop the clock, Australia sent Dangerfield to the line with 10 seconds remaining. Dangerfield swished in both tries for the final points of the game. Australia got a 2-point shot off at the buzzer, but it missed its mark, and the U.S. came away with the win.
“It felt great to make those,” said Dangerfield. “When I went to the line, I knew I had done that time after time, so it felt no different. It was just two free throws. They just meant something more (laughs).”
After the U.S. closed the first quarter up 23-18, the American women went up by as many as six points, 35-29 at 4:02, after back-to-back 3-pointers from Ali Patberg (Columbus North H.S./Columbus, Ind.) and Moore. However, the U.S. through most of the game was never able to pull ahead by more than six, and Australia closed the gap over the next few minutes, knotting the score at 37-37 with a pair of free throws and 1:17 showing before halftime.
Neither team was able to convert, and with the first half clock winding down, Napheesa Collier (Incarnate Word Academy/O’Fallon, Mo.) scored with eight seconds to go to give the USA a 39-37 lead at the half.
“It was just a great game,” said Wilson, who drew 11 fouls in all and had 14 points by halftime “My teammates really helped me out a lot. They got me the ball a lot, and then Australia kept fouling me, so I was really focused this game on making my free throws. I am very proud that I made all 14. That’s something that’s important for me. But, I just really give my teammates credit, because they really helped me out and kept feeding me the ball.”
Rising Baylor University sophomore Kristy Wallace scored five-straight points out of the locker room to spur a 9-2 Australia run and help her squad pull in front 46-41. The remainder of the quarter saw the U.S. fight to tie the score, but struggle to take a lead. With 1:46 on the clock, Chatrice White (Illinois/Shelby, Neb.) hit a pair from the charity stripe to bring the score even, 58-58, the fourth and final tie of the quarter. Wilson and Dangerfield connected down the stretch to put the U.S. up 62-58 with 49 seconds left, but Australia scored in the final 11 seconds and with 10 minutes to play, it was a two-point game with the U.S. up 62-60.
The USA outrebounded Australia 43-36 and 16 of Australia’s 22 turnovers were steals from the Americans. The U.S., finished the game shooting 38.0 percent (27-71 FGs) from the field, while Australia connected on 44.4 percent (32-72 FGs) of its shots from the field.
Wilson’s perfect shooting from the line helped her side finish the game at 87.5 percent (28-32 FTs) from the charity stripe, while Australia hit just 52.4 percent (11-21 FTs) from the line.
Wallace finished with a team-high 23 points for Australia, while Southern Methodist University forward Alicia Froling scored 20 points.
Katie Lou Samuelson (Mater Dei H.S./Huntington Beach, Calif.) returned home during the USA’s training camp due to a family issue and will not compete in the Spain U19 International Invitational.
Assisting Staley and the U19 squad are collegiate head coaches Kim Barnes Arico of the University of Michigan and Jeff Walz of the University of Louisville.
The USA U19 squad is on a quest to capture a sixth-consecutive gold medal at the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship and is using the Spain U19 International Invitational as a final tune-up for the U19 Worlds, which will be played July 18-26 in Chekhov, Russia,
The USA will open 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship play against Spain on July 18 (1:15 p.m. EDT), face China on July 19 (1:15 p.m. EDT) and cap preliminary round play on July 21 against Egypt (1:15 p.m. EDT). The USA’s preliminary round games will be streamed live online at YouTube.com/FIBA.
2015 FIBA U19 World Championship
The FIBA U19 Worlds will feature 16 teams with athletes 19 years old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1996). The 16 teams will be seeded following the July 18-21 preliminary play and advance to the knockout phase with the round of 16 on July 22. The quarterfinals are scheduled for July 24, semifinals are on July 25 and the tournament will end with the medal games on July 26.
Competing in Group A are host Russia, Argentina, the Netherlands and Japan; Group C consists of Belgium, Canada, and Mali; while Group D includes Australia, Brazil, Serbia and South Korea.
First held in 1985 and known as the FIBA Junior World Championship through 2001, the U19 World Championship features the world’s top players who are 19 years old or younger. Held every four years through 2005, FIBA now holds U19 World Championships every two years.
USA women’s teams are 66-12 in the U19/Junior World Championships, capturing a fifth-consecutive gold in 2013 with a 9-0 record. In all, the USA own a record six gold medals and one bronze medal and have stood on the podium in each of the past seven FIBA U19 World Championships.
Notable players to represent the U.S. include: Angela Aycock (1993); Alana Beard (2001); Essence Carson (2005); Tamika Catchings (1997); Crystal Langhorne (2005); Erlana Larkins (2005); Jantel Lavender (2007); Lisa Leslie (1989); Rebecca Lobo (1993); Maya Moore (2007); Nnemkadi Ogwumike (2009); Vickie Orr (1985); Courtney Paris (2005); Cappie Pondexter (2001); Katie Smith (1993); Dawn Staley (1989); Breanna Stewart (2011 and 2013); and Diana Taurasi (2001).