July 14, 2013
LANZAROTE, Canary Islands -- Tennessee's Bashaara Graves scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds, helping the USA women to an exhibition victory in the Lanzarote International Invitational on Saturday night.
Leading from wire-to-wire, the 2013 USA Women's U19 World Championship Team (2-0) upended host Spain (0-2) 78-49 at Teguise Arena.
A rising sophomore, Graves (Clarksville, Tenn./Clarksville H.S.) was one of only two Americans scoring in double figures, as seven players scored six or more points in the win. The 2013 SEC Freshman of the Year, who started for the second straight game, added two assists in 17 minutes and shot 3-6 from the field and 4-4 from the free throw line.
In the night's early game, Australia (1-1) defeated Canada (1-1) 72-65. The round-robin tournament concludes on Sunday with the Americans going against Canada at 6 a.m. Eastern time (11:00 a.m. in Lanzarote).
"I thought that was a great response by our team to understand the level of effort that we have to give every night," said USA U19 and University of Miami head coach Katie Meier. "Spain had our attention; they had our full attention. We expected a real emotional, passionate performance by them and they started out that way. It was a great response by our team."
Coming out with more energy overall than it did against Australia last night, the USA jumped out to an early lead it would never relinquish. Graves got the U.S. on the board 17 seconds into the game and by the 6:21 mark, with three more Americans contributing points, the USA was up 10-2.
However, the red, white and blue had a tough time adjusting to the international style of play and at 5:08 was whistled for its fifth team foul. Being in the bonus resulted the host nation hitting 9-of-10 in the second half of the stanza to keep the game within single digits and at the end of the period the USA led by nine, 23-14.
"The key to the game was the early foul trouble by our starters, which gave us significant minutes off of our bench," added Meier, whose squad had six players with two fouls apiece by halftime. "We don't really call it our bench; we call it our second wave, our reinforcements, because they just reinforced what the starters did. They played with a tremendous amount of poise and I was awfully pleased with that.
"As coaches we were allowed to manage minutes and we needed that. We're trying to learn about the team. I was disappointed about the early foul trouble, but I thought the response to the early foul trouble was a real positive for the team."
Ahead 49-34 with just under five minutes to play in the third quarter, the U.S. opened up the game with another 11-2 run to go up 61-36 and dash and any comeback hopes Spain might have been harboring. By the end of the third, the score stood at 63-38.
The Americans continued to increase their lead, going up by as many as 30 points, 77-47, before closing with the 78-49 win.
Points were spread around and including the contribution from Harper and Graves, the Americans received nine points and five boards from Alexis Jones (Duke / Irving, Texas).
"Candice (Agee) played real well," said Graves. "She stepped up a lot. She had a lot of hustle plays for her minutes. I think everybody came out and had hustle plays on defense. I think that was the most important thing."
Spain, which has five U19 World Championship-eligible athletes who are currently competing in the FIBA Europe U20 Championship, was led by Leticia Romero's 13 points.
Shooting 49.2 percent from the field, the USA's defense limited Spain to a frigid 27.9 percent overall. However, both teams struggled from beyond the arc as Spain hit for 13.3 percent and the U.S. just 7.7 percent (1-13 3pt FGs). The United States dominated on the glass 49-29 and dished out 14 assists on 31 field goals.
Four-time defending U19 world champs, the USA is using the mini-tournament to help prepare for 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship, hosted by Lithuania from July 18-28 in Klaipeda and Panave?ys.