USA Women Power Past Host Serbia 84-50, Advance To World University Games Second Round As Group A's No. 1 Seed
July 3, 2009 - Belgrade, Serbia
After a first-quarter fight from Serbia (1-2), the 2009 USA Women's World University Games Team (3-0) buckled down on defense and held its opponent to just 36 points in the final three quarters and 36.7 shooting from the field overall to secure a 84-50 win on Friday evening in Belgrade, Serbia.
The USA will advance to the second round as Group A's No. 1 seed, where it will meet the No. 2 seed from Group D, Poland (2-1), at 5:30 p.m. (11:30 a.m. EDT) on Saturday, July 5.
'I think we were prepared for a close game, and at the same time, we knew that if we rebounded and played defense, we could pretty much dominate the game,' said USA and Arizona State University head coach Charli Turner Thorne. 'I am really proud of this team for their composure and playing through rough play. We did anticipate Serbia would be very aggressive after scouting them, and the crowd was certainly in their favor, but it was fun. This is what we prepared for - a big arena, big crowd and having to pull together and find a way to get things done. It was another great team win.'
Tina Charles (Connecticut / Jamaica, N.Y.), who shot 8-of-10 from the field, led the USA with 17 points and five rebounds; followed by Ashley Houts (Georgia / Trenton, Ga.) and Danielle McCray (Kansas / Olathe, Kan.) with 12 points each; and Alexis Gray-Lawson (California / Oakland, Calif.) with 10 points, five rebounds and four steals.
For a third straight game, all 11 active U.S. players put points on the board, and for a second time, all 11 U.S. players grabbed at least one rebound.
'We knew they were going to come out hard and aggressive, and they did, but we stayed together and the coaches helped us keep our composure,' Charles said. 'It felt great to get the win, knowing this was a team effort. Everybody scored, and everybody contributed.'
Thanks to a bucket rom Gray-Lawson and a 3-pointer from McCray, the USA jumped to a 5-0 lead just 1:11 into the game. For the next 8:49, however, Serbia was able to match each U.S. bucket, and the U.S. lead was its smallest margin yet after the first period at six points, 20-14.
With the help of eight second-period points from Charles, the USA raced to 23 more points before the halftime buzzer, while holding Serbia to just 12, and the U.S. advantage had improved to 43-26 as both teams headed to the locker room. During the quarter, the USA put together its largest run of the contest, an 8-0 spurt that opened with a bucket from Charles at 2:00 and ended with a coast-to-coast lay-in from Danielle Robinson (Oklahoma / San Jose, Calif.) with 35 seconds on the clock.
A three-point play from Charles and a 3-pointer from Jeanette Pohlen (Stanford / Brea, Calif.) helped the USA start the third quarter with a 6-0 spurt that brought the score to 49-26 at 8:11, but both teams slowed in the period, with the USA committing seven of its 16 turnovers in the quarter and Serbia committing six of its eventual 17 turnovers.
Five U.S. scorers helped the red, white and blue post 22 points in the final 10 minutes, while the U.S. defense held Serbia to 13 points to bring the game to its 84-50 final.
Jantel Lavender (Ohio State / Cleveland, Ohio) added seven points and seven rebounds; Tiffany Hayes (Connecticut / Lakeland, Fla.) contributed six points and five assists; and Jacinta Monroe (Florida State / Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) tallied five points and eight rebounds.
Maya Moore (Connecticut / Lawrenceville, Ga.) did not play due to a sore right knee and is listed as day-to-day.
Serbia, led by 17 points from Jovana Rad, shot 4-of-20 from 3-point (.200) and gave up 13 second-chance points.
Turner Thorne is assisted on the USA sideline by Suzy Merchant of Michigan State University and Julie Rousseau of Pepperdine University.
In today's other games, Great Britain (2-1) beat France (0-3) 80-56 in Group A action. Group B saw Australia (3-0) top Canada (0-3) 80-50, and Slovakia (2-1) edge Japan (1-2) 90-88. In Group C, Russia (3-0) beat Taiwan (2-1) 75-43, and Hungary (1-2) rolled past Mozambique (0-3) 84-50. Group D action saw the Czech Republic (3-0) capture a 84-71 win over Poland and China (1-2) top Turkey (0-3) by a score of 83-55.
Preliminary round No. 1 seeds USA and Czech Republic and No. 2 seeds Great Britain and Poland will advance to the second round Group E, while No. 1 seeds Australia and Russia and No. 2 seeds Slovakia and Taiwan and will advance to Group F. Results from the preliminary round for advancing teams carry over into the second round standings. After each team plays two games against their crossover opponent, the top two finishing teams in Groups E and F will advance to the medal semifinals on July 9 to play for 1st-4th place. The bottom two teams will play for 5th-8th place.
'Everybody here is representing their country, and we are all some of the best athletes in our countries, so we really can't underestimate our opponents,' Houts said. 'But we are excited for the road ahead and ready to play who ever we are matched up with.'
Finishing as No. 3 or No. 4 seeds in preliminary group play, Canada, China, France, Hungary, Japan, Mozambique, Serbia and Turkey will advance to second round Groups G and F to play for 9-16th places.