July 21, 2011
Debby Jennings, Assoc. AD for Media Relations
Puerto Montt, Chile--A pair of Tennessee Lady Vol incoming freshmen were in the USA starting line-up to open play in the U19 World Championships, as the Red, White & Blue streaked past a smaller Japan squad 85-63 on Thursday afternoon in Puerto Montt, Chile.
Rookies-to-be Cierra Burdick (Matthews, N.C.) and Ariel Massengale (Bolingbrook, Ill.) got the USA squad out to a quick lead in the first period and the favored Americans never looked back. Burdick scored five points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished a couple of assists in 14 minutes of action. Massengale logged 24 minutes and dished out five helpers and secured five rebounds in the outing.
"It was good to get the first game under our belts," Massengale said. "Getting on the court, it was something we've been working hard for. After today's game, we know that we still have a lot of room for improvement. Each day we're going to improve."
Bria Hartley (Connecticut / North Babylon, N.Y.) was 3-of-4 from 3-point land to pace the U.S. with 18 points.
The USA team was at the gym to scout their next opponent, Russia who downed Argentina, 70-51.
"We know the Russian team will come out shooting and playing hard," Massengale predicted. "They're bigger, more our size, so I think we'll be able to match up better with them offensively and defensively. We need to take care of the ball and play USA basketball. If we do that, we should be fine."
The three-time defending U19 World Championship gold medalist United States will face Russia on July 22 at 1:30 p.m. (all times local, EDT) and close the first round against Argentina on July 23 at 4:30 p.m. The second round will be played July 25-27, quarterfinals are slated for July 29, semifinals will be held on July 30 and the finals are scheduled for July 31. FIBATV.com will stream live online the medal semifinals and medal finals.
"(Japan was) excellent. They started the game with a lot of intensity," said Jennifer Rizzotti, USA U19 World Championship Team and University of Hartford head coach. "They're a hard match-up for us. We do have the size, but some of our big guys weren't able to match up with their quickness on the perimeter. So, we had to find that balance between wanting to score inside, but also wanting to not give up points. When they're scoring three for our every two, it doesn't really add up. So we decided to go with the smaller lineup for awhile and try to really focus on our defense. When we came back with our bigger players, they were pretty worn down."
With the score still close, 68-57, with 6:57 to play in the fourth, the U.S. clamped down on defense as its offense went to work. That resulted in a 10-3 run that knocked the wind out of Japan's sails and gave the USA some breathing room, 79-60, as it cruised in for the victory.
Japan's swarming, quick defense forced 21 U.S. turnovers, whereas Japan coughed the ball up just 13 times. The taller U.S. squad - the USA's average height is 6'1" and Japan's is just 5'8" - won the battle on the glass, 58-36, and shot a red-hot 53.7 percent from the field (36-67 FGs), while limiting Japan to just 28.4 percent (23-81 FGs) from the field. Japan was able to keep the game close thanks to its long-range shooting as the Asian squad hit 10-of-27 from afar.
Japan's Sanae Motomkawa, who was 4-of-5 from 3-point, scored a game-best 20 points.
In other games, Canada (1-0) downed China (1-0) 76-49, in Group A play; Group C saw Australia (1-0) claim a win by forfeit after Nigeria wasn't able to make it to Chile. Later games tonight finds host Chile facing France; Slovenia playing Taiwan, Italy taking on Egypt while Brazil will meet Spain in the nightcap.
Only U.S. citizens who are 19 years old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1992) are eligible for this team.