Semifinal Matchups Set At Women's U23 Training Camp
USA Women’s U23 National Team training camp rolled on with tournament preliminary round games Wednesday evening in Colorado Springs, with results dictating tournament semifinals seedings heading into Thursday.
- “I’ve been really impressed with the effort of the young women,” said USA U23 and University of Louisville head coach Jeff Walz following the evening’s games. “I know it has been a tiring day for them. They’ve put a lot of effort into it. But, I think it’s been better as they understand what we are trying to do as a team. The competition, it’s getting better and better. Overall, just very pleased with their effort.”
- Team 1 versus Team 4: There was no stopping Team 4 (2-1), coached by Courtney Banghart (Princeton), in the first quarter of the evening’s first game, as Banghart’s club surged in front behind a 16-1 run in the opening minutes. Team 1 (0-3), with Jamelle Elliott (Cincinnati) on its sideline, closed the gap before the end of the period, 20-11, but Team 4 stretched it out to a 13-point game at the half, 37-24. Fatigue contributed to the defensive struggle in the second half, with the sides trading baskets in the fourth quarter. Team 1 never inched closer than eight points and Team 4 pulled out the 68-56 win.
Asia Durr (Louisville/Douglasville, Ga.) scored a game-high 13 points for Team 4, while Kristine Anigwe (California/Phoenix, Ariz.) added 11 points on 11 free throw makes. Brooke McCarty (Texas/League City, Texas) and Jatarie White (Texas/Charlotte, N.C.) dropped in 12 points apiece for Team 1.
“We came out and bounced back from this morning,” said Mercedes Russell (Tennessee/Springfield, Ore.) after Team 4’s win. “We kind of had low energy and didn’t play up to our potential, but tonight, I think we came out with a lot of energy and that was good. It’s going to take a lot of energy to win. You can’t win without putting in the effort and execution.”
- Team 2 versus Team 3: The nightcap between Michelle Clark-Heard’s (Western Kentucky) Team 2 (2-1) and Cori Close’s (UCLA) Team 3 (2-1) featured a similar start to the first game of the evening session, as Close’s squad completely thwarted the previously unbeaten Team 2 on the defensive end. The score was 25-20 after eight minutes and stood at 49-29 at halftime. Team 3 blitzed its counterparts for a 16-0 run in the third period to take a commanding 39-point lead, and would go on to win 89-50.
Four players notched double figure scoring for Team 3, led by Erin Boley’s (Oregon/Hodgenville, Kent.) game-high 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Kelsey Mitchell (Ohio State/Cincinnati, Ohio) added 14 points for Team 3 and Sabrina Ionescu (Oregon/Walnut Creek, Calif.) dropped nine assists. Team 2 was paced by Ariel Atkins’ (Texas/Duncanville, Texas) 15 points.
“Our team has improved every single game, but I think it came down to toughness for us tonight,” said Boley following Team 3’s monstrous win. “Both teams, honestly, were exhausted, but I think we fought through it really well. We were hitting shots and were playing well together. We ran hard in transition too, and I think that made a big difference.”
- Thursday’s games are semifinal matchups and will peg Team 1 (0-3) versus Team 3 (2-1) in the opener at 10 a.m. (EDT), with Team 2 (2-1) squaring off against Team 4 (2-1) at 11:30 a.m. (EDT). With three teams knotted at 2-1, a point differential tiebreaker was enforced to determine seeding. The winners of the semifinals game will advance into Friday’s gold medal game (11:30 a.m. EDT), while the semifinals losers will play in the bronze medal game (10 a.m. EDT). Both the bronze and gold medal games will be streamed live on www.USAB.com/live.