USA Women’s World University Games Team Uses Dominant Defense To Knock Off Hungary In Quarterfinals, 84-43
GWANGJU, South Korea – The USA Women’s World University Games Team (4-0) held Hungary (2-2) to 26.7 percent shooting from the field and 16 total points in the second half Thursday night as they remained undefeated while advancing to the medal round semifinals with an 84-43 triumph at Dongkang College Gymnasium.
The 43 points allowed is the lowest for the USA through four games in the tournament. In its last two wins, the opposition is shooting just 26.6 percent (38-of-143), while turning the ball over 19 times per contest.
“The way we’re playing defense just wore them out,” said USA and Northwestern University head coach Joe McKeown. “That’s the same thing we did to the Czech Republic. Because we’re able to play so many people, it really changes the game on that end of the floor.”
In the biggest game of the tournament to date as the medal round began, the USA got out to a bit of a slow start. The squad built an 8-2 lead less than three minutes in when Erica McCall (Stanford/Bakersfield, Calif.) scored inside off a feed from Jordin Canada (UCLA/Los Angeles, Calif.). Hungary would slice the deficit to three points on a couple of occasions in the first period, but Chanise Jenkins (DePaul/Chicago, Ill.) converted a couple of free throw attempts with 41 seconds to go in the stanza to set the USA lead at five points, 20-15, after one.
Sharpshooter Sydney Wiese (Oregon State/Phoenix, Ariz.) buried a couple of 3-pointers off the bench in the first quarter, and she continued to do a bit of everything for the United States in the second period. Wiese extended her team’s lead to seven points, 28-21, with a hustling backcourt steal and easy layup with 7:04 to go in the half. That basket came during a 10-0 run that saw five different players find pay dirt for the United States. Brionna Jones (Maryland/Havre de Grace, Md.) finished the first-half scoring when she netted two of her game-high 15 points inside off a pass from Michigan State’s Aerial Powers (Michigan State/Detroit, Mich.) with three seconds left. The USA led Hungary after 20 minutes, 39-27.
The defensive effort from the Red, White and Blue cranked up a notch as the teams began the second half. Hungary was able to score only seven third-quarter points on 2-of-12 shooting from the field. The United States used a full-court press that helped it secure 10 steals in the third period alone, which was only two fewer than Hungary had for the entire game.
Leading 49-32 with 5:15 to go in the third quarter, Powers drained a pair of free throws, which sparked a game-high 16-point run over the span of five minutes. When it was finished, seven different players scored for the USA during the surge, including Jones who contributed six during the run that helped the United States take a 67-34 lead into the fourth quarter.
There was little let down in the defensive effort over the final 10 minutes of the quarterfinal matchup. The Hungarians made only three of their 16 shots from the field in the fourth; though they did convert the only 3-pointer they would make all night (1-of-13) with 2:33 remaining.
Offensively, Jones dominated the paint with eight points coming in the fourth quarter to help the United States seal off an 84-43 victory, earning a berth in the semifinals.
“Our defense is what separated us,” said Powers after the win. “At first we couldn’t buy a bucket and we were missing easy shots that we usually make. Today our defense is what separated us and helped us.”
In addition to leading all players in scoring Thursday night, Jones also corralled a game-high seven rebounds. In the last two victories over the Czech Republic and Hungary, Jones is averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds in 17.5 minutes off the bench. She’s shooting over 70 percent (12-of-17), while the United States has won by an average of 39.5 points.
“I’m really excited that we came out starting the medal round well and that we really came together,” said Jones. “We’re finally clicking and everything’s working so moving forward we’ll be ready to keep going for gold.”
Three other players from the USA scored in double figures against Hungary. McCall, the team’s leading scorer through four games, had 14 points Thursday, while Wiese and Nina Davis (Baylor/Memphis, Tenn.) scored 13 and 10 points, respectively, their high outputs for the World University Games thus far. Wiese added five rebounds, two steals, an assist and a block; Davis chipped in with six rebounds, two steals and an assist in 20 minutes off the bench. Canada added seven assists and six steals for the United States.
The United States will move on to the semifinal round where it will be greeted by Japan, a team that upset Australia, 83-71. The game between the USA and Japan will be played on Saturday, July 11, once again at Dongkang College Gymnasium, at 8 p.m. local time (7 a.m. EDT). The last time the two teams met on the hardwood at the World University Games, the USA won 106-66 in Beijing, China in 2001.
“They’re obviously playing really well after beating Australia tonight,” said McKeown. “We’re going to have to defend outside the 3-point line and off the dribble. It’s going to be another challenge defensively to guard them. It should be a fun game.”
The first semifinal, featuring Russia and Canada, will tipoff at 4:30 a.m. (EDT) Saturday.
McKeown is assisted by collegiate head coaches Holly Warlick from the University of Tennessee and Tanya Warren from the University of Northern Iowa.