July 14, 2013
LANZAROTE, Canary Islands -- Behind an intense pressure defense, the 2013 USA Women's U19 World Championship Team (3-0) sprinted to a 28-7 lead en route to a 69-49 defeat of Canada (1-2) to capture the 2013 Lanzarote International Invitational championship on Sunday morning at the Teguise Arena.
Tennessee's Bashaara Graves once again was in the starting lineup, tallying eight points, seven rebounds, a steal and an assist in 18 minutes. She knocked down one of two shots from the field and hit six of eight tries from the charity stripe.
Breanna Stewart (Connecticut / North Syracuse, N.Y.) led the way with 11 points, while Morgan Tuck (Connecticut / Bolingbrook, Ill.) scored 10 and Brianna Turner (Manvel H.S. / Pearland, Texas) also had 10 points to go with seven rebounds.
"The start of the game, our first quarter was just phenomenal, especially after that short (13-hour) turnaround," said USA U19 and University of Miami head coach Katie Meier. "It really showed maturity in our starters. But, our pressure wasn't consistent throughout the game. It came and went. We kind of pressured in spurts. We weren't as sharp mentally as we needed to be, but I was really happy to see the veterans set the tone early in this game."
Striking first and jumping out to a 9-2 lead, the U.S. never trailed and with the score showing 11-6, the red, white and blue went on a game-deciding run. Feeding off of its pressure defense, the USA capped the first quarter by scoring nine unanswered points in a 17-2 run that bridged the quarter gap and with 6:47 to play before half, the game was well in hand, 28-7. Utilizing a variety of scoring options that saw Stewart score five of her nine first half points in the run, the U.S. got points from six different players during that time.
Canada, however, would not back down and outscored the U.S. 15-8 over the remainder of the second quarter and at halftime the USA's advantage was 14 points, 36-22, with 10 of the 11 healthy players contributing to the scoring column.
"It's really hard to ever think you can put a team away, especially a team of this caliber," added Meier. "Canada played with a lot of pride, responded and made some adjustments. We sort of lost our focus, so it was kind of a combination of things."
The USA's lead was cut to 12, 41-29, in the second half's first 1:23, however, a 9-0 spurt distanced the red, white and blue from their neighbors to the north to a tune of 50-29. Canada scored the period's final four points to bring the third quarter to a 50-33 close.
The fourth quarter saw the U.S. outscore Canada 19-16 for the final.
Neither team shot particularly well, with the USA hitting 34.2 percent and Canada 31.1 percent overall. The U.S. posted a 51-29 rebounding margin, but committed 20 turnovers, while forcing Canada into 23.
Four-time defending U19 world champs, the USA departs tonight for the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship, hosted by Lithuania from July 18-28 in Klaipeda and Panavė?ys.
Assisting Meier and the U19 squad are collegiate head coaches Nikki Caldwell of Louisiana State University (former UT player and assistant) and Kelly Graves of Gonzaga University.
The FIBA U19 Worlds will feature 16 teams with athletes 19-years-old or younger. Including host Lithuania and the USA, competing for U19 gold will be Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Japan, Mali, Netherlands, Russia, Senegal, Serbia, South Korea and Spain.
Drawn into Group D, the U.S. will play its preliminary and second round games in Panavė?ys, and opens against Lithuania on July 18, followed by China on July 19 and caps the preliminary round against Mali on July 20.
The top three finishing teams from each first-round group will advance to the second round, held July 22-24. The 12 nations qualifying for the second round will be divided into Groups E and F. Each team will play the three new teams in its new group, with all results of games played in the preliminary round carrying over to determine the second-round standings.
Teams finishing in first through fourth places in the second round will qualify for the quarterfinals, with the opportunity to advance to the semifinals and finals. The medal round will be played in Klaipeda, with the quarterfinals held on July 26, semifinals slated for July 27 and the gold medal game on July 28.