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Kristine Anigwe

Additional Quotes: USA U19 Women 80, Spain 65 (semifinals)

  • Date:
    Jul 25, 2015

Chekhov, Russia

USA U19 head coach Dawn Staley (South Carolina)
On today’s game:
I was really proud of this team tonight. We needed a game like this. It was a gut-check type of game that will prep us for what we’ll face tomorrow. I know the environment will be hostile, so we needed this kind of win. We had different players step up and we got great contributions off our bench. Our starters did a great job, and it forced us to come together as a cohesive group when we needed to.

On the play of Napheesa Collier:
Pheese is relentless. She is competitive. She doesn’t want to lose and she leaves it all out there every time she steps on the floor. Sometimes we have to think about how the tournament is set up (with seven games in nine days) and we didn’t want to play her too many minutes to give her a little bit of decompression for what we’ll face tomorrow. But, it’s hard to keep her off the floor because of what she brings to the table.

Are you worried at all about the team’s 3-point or free throw shooting?
The 3-point shooting, no. We knew coming into this tournament that it wasn’t our strength. We’re definitely concerned about the free throws, because we feel that we’re going to get to the line a lot tomorrow night. You’ve got to step up there and confidently hit them. So, we’ll talk to our team about what they’ll face tomorrow and one of them is being able to knock down free throws.

How tough will it be to play Russia on Russia’s court?
It’s nothing like anybody will ever imagine. No conference or national championship game. None of that, because, those are at neutral sites. To represent your country in another country, on their home court where there will be screaming fans, hissing fans, and everybody in the gym is going to be against us, it builds character. Our team has gained a lot of chemistry over the past month, so we’ve readied ourselves for this situation.

Napheesa Collier (Incarnate Word Academy/O’Fallon, Mo.)
On tonight’s game:
It felt really good to come out like that. Hopefully we can do that tomorrow and that tonight was a little sneak peek of tomorrow.

On her play tonight:
My teammates really helped get me open. I got the rebounds and stuff, but I couldn’t have done it without them.

On the play of Azurá Stevens and A’ja Wilson:
They were big. They were so big. A’ja had 20 points, they were just both so awesome. They were playing off the boards and getting the put-backs.

What was your plan tonight?
We had to be really focused, because playing a team three times in two weeks is really hard. But, we knew our scout really well, so we were just trying to execute it well. It helped us a little bit because we kind of knew what they were going to do.

On playing Russia for the gold medal:
It’s going to be really tough, but I’m actually really excited for it. I can’t wait for tomorrow. To hopefully beat someone on their home court for a gold medal would be really exciting.

Mariya Moore (Louisville/Richmond, Calif.)
On tonight’s game:
It was really tough, because we both wanted the same thing. Even though we played them twice (since July 14) and won, it didn’t matter because this was to go to the gold medal game.

It seemed that each time you started to pull away, Spain fought back to single digits. How were you able to counter that and hold Spain off?
Just by our defense. They were hitting a lot of shots throughout the night. But we just buckled down and got rebounds.

What was the key to the win?
I think it was the minor breakdowns. We both had breakdowns where we had turnovers and the other team capitalized. But, I think when you’re tired, which we both were, it was the times when we pushed through and they didn’t.

You’re playing for gold tomorrow. What are some of the final things your team needs to work on tomorrow before the game?
Shooting. Definitely we need to work on free throw shooting and outside shooting, because we’re probably going to need that, too. We’re pretty set inside, so in case they double or triple, we need to work on our outside shooting so we can hit those tomorrow.

Azurá Stevens (Duke/Raleigh, N.C.)
On tonight’s game:
It was really tough because this was our third time playing them and they know what we do, we know what they do. We just had to come out and fight to get that win. The calls weren’t always going our way and different things like that, and they came out on fire, and were really pumped up. It was hard to defend them in the beginning. But, we mustered it up and finished it out.

What was your game plan?
We were trying to contain Angela Salvadores, my future teammate, and the other girls who cold shoot 3s. (Laura Quevedo) came out and was really on fire, so that was kind of a little bit of a shock for us. But we just wanted to stick with what we do. That’s what we were really trying to work on.

On the play of Napheesa Collier and A’ja Wilson:
Awesome. Awesome. Pheese came out and was just unstoppable. That’s what she’s capable of doing. It’s really cool and fun playing with her. And then A’ja just had a steady game. She didn’t necessarily start out super on fire, but she kept giving energy and got 24 in the end, so that was awesome.

You’re heading into the gold medal game against Russia. How difficult will that be?
It’s going to be really tough, but I’m so confident in the team and going to war with them. It’s going to be amazing to be in here, fighting hard and hopefully in the end having that gold medal in our hands.

How good can you be next year playing alongside Spain’s Angela Salvadores?
So good. Right now it’s a little hard because I’m going up against her, but I’m so excited for her to get on campus in August, and get acclimated. Once we start gelling and getting to know each other, it’s going to be a great three years.

A’ja Wilson (South Carolina/Hopkins, S.C.)
On tonight’s game:
As a team I think this game was very tough, because it’s always tough to play a three times in such a short amount of time. Sometimes we come in and think, ‘Oh, we already beat them. We’re going to blow them out,’ but they came out and played hard. They never gave up, and over the course of 40 minutes they kept coming and kept coming at us. We have to learn how to keep our guard up better.

For me, personally, it was a different style of game. Things weren’t going my way and it’s never going to go your way all the time, so I had to adjust to that and face adversity. It’s something that coach Staley really talked to me about, getting over that hump, because teams are going to come out and do anything they can to beat us. We have a big target on our back. I’m just really proud of my teammates for stepping up and taking care of everything. We played a really good, solid game.

On the play of Napheesa Collier and Azurá Stevens:
Their contributions are always great. Anytime they can just come out and just be them, get the flow of the game going, it takes a lot of pressure off of me and off of a lot of people. Their contributions are just great.

On playing Russia for the gold medal:
It’s going to be very difficult. Any away game is hard. Any away game in America is hard, so I can only imagine how an away game in Russia is going to be. But, we watched them, we scouted them and I think the coaches have a great scout on them. We’re going to come out and play hard, because we know what’s at stake. We know we want to win a gold medal. That’s why we came here, and they are trying to do the same thing. It is going to be tough playing in front of their crowd. Things might not go our way the whole time, but I have confidence in my teammates. I trust them a lot and I think we’re going to come out with the win.

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