USA Women's U19 National Team Earns 88-75 Victory Over France, Marches On To Medal Semifinals
July 31, 2009 - Bangkok, Thailand
|Nneka Ogwumike is averaging team-highs of 12.6 ppg. and 9.3 rpg. through seven games.|
After trailing by eight points late in the first half, the 2009 USA U19 World Championship Team (6-1) came back to earn an 88-75 victory over France (3-4) on Friday afternoon in Bangkok, Thailand. Four of the USA's starters scored in double digits, led by USA team co-captains Skylar Diggins (Washington H.S. / South Bend, Ind.) and Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Stanford / Cypress, Texas), who paved the way with 16 points apiece, Kelsey Bone (Dulles H.S. /Stafford, Texas) added 12 points and Shenise Johnson (Miami, Fla. / Henrietta, N.Y.) scored 10 points; while Samantha Prahalis (Ohio State / Dix Hills, N.Y.) dished out seven assists.
In the Aug. 1 semifinals for the right to play for the gold medal, the U.S. will face Canada (4-3), which went down to the wire in a 50-49 victory over previously undefeated Australia (6-1) in today's first quarterfinal contest. The other semifinal will feature Argentina (5-2), which beat Russia (4-3) tonight 67-75, going up against the winner of the Lithuania (3-3) versus Spain (6-0) quarterfinal game.
-I thought we had our moments," said Carol Owens, USA and Northern Illinois University head coach. -We're still on our quest to play our best basketball. France is a team that is very aggressive. They shot the ball well, especially in the first half. They kind of took us off keel a little bit, but we bounced back. Skylar Diggins and Sam Prahalis got into foul trouble early. They're important to our team, so when we had them back in the third quarter, that was important in terms of our offensive efficiency."
France, which hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter, took the lead four minutes into the contest and remained out in front for a 22-16 first quarter lead.
-France put on the defensive pressure," said Diggins. -They got up on us and really got out on defense, got some transition layups. It was pretty much like they were shooting in the ocean, they were making everything in the first half, banking shots in and just outplaying us. Finally in the last couple of minutes in the second quarter we were able to tie it up."
Prahalis and Diggins were forced to watch most of the second quarter after picking up two fouls each in the first three minutes of the period and France was able to remain in the lead. By the 3:42 mark in the second quarter, France owned its biggest advantage of the game, 34-36.
Layshia Clarendon (Cajon H.S. / San Bernadino, Calif.) got the U.S. back on track with a driving bucket at 2:44 and went on to score six points in a 10-2 run that closed the half with the game even at 36-all.
-I just really accepted my role on this team," said Clarendon. -Then when a couple of girls got into foul trouble, they needed me in the game. I just happened to be the one who scored the points. They needed me to step up today."
France put up the first points in the second half and at 8:33 the game was knotted for the final time at 40-40. Prahalis drove to the hoop at 8:15 and got both of her points from the stripe to put the U.S. ahead for good. That spurred an 8-0 run that ended with a pair of Johnson free throws and the U.S. was up 48-40 with 17:21 remaining in the contest.
In all, the United States outscored France 20-6 in a five-minute run that closed the first half and opened the second.
By the 2:15 mark in the third quarter the USA's lead expanded to 14 points, 63-49, and it seemed as the U.S. would run away with the quarterfinal game. However, a pair of offensive fouls and a third turnover by the USA over the period's final two minutes, helped France get back into contention, 63-59, at the end of the period.
France cut the gap again at the start of the final stanza to make it a two-point game, 63-61, with 9:27 to play. The U.S. again picked up its defensive intensity, Diggins took a charge and Johnson forced a pair of France turnovers, as the USA's offense took off on a 15-3 run to jump back to a double-digit lead, 78-64, with four minutes remaining. France never again threatened as the Americans won another victory to move to the semifinals.
-In the second half coach wanted us to pick up the defensive intensity, get out there and play together, make sure we communicate with each other," added Diggins. -That was a pretty big topic: communication. We also wanted to sure we were running our offense. Once we started doing that we started getting buckets, we were getting our butts down on defense and getting out on transition and scoring some transition buckets."
After owning a slim 22-16 rebounding advantage in the first half, the red, white and blue took the battle of the boards for 44-26 at the end of the game, thanks in part to nine from Ogwumike and eight from Johnson.
The USA also shot an even 50 percent (35-70 FGs) from the field and scored 56 points in the paint, but made just 25.0 percent (2-8 3pt FGs) from beyond the arc. In contrast, France kept it close by shooting 36.4 percent (12-33 3pt FGs) from three, better than its icy 34.6 percent (28-81 FGs) from the field overall.
In classification play, the Czech Republic (4-3) downed China (1-6) 76-70 and Brazil (3-4) defeated Japan (2-5) 62-56.
Owens is being assisted by collegiate head coaches Amanda Butler of the University of Florida and Bill Fennelly of Iowa State University.
The 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship features 16 national teams comprised of athletes 19-years-old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1990) that qualified through their FIBA zone tournaments.