USA Women Fight Off Poland, Remain Undefeated With 75-67 Win
July 5, 2009 - Belgrade, Serbia
An 11-0 run that stretched from the end of the first half into the first two minutes of the third period helped the USA Women's World University Games Team (4-0) fight off a resilient Poland (2-2) team and remain undefeated with a 75-67 win on Sunday evening in Belgrade, Serbia.
Tina Charles (Connecticut / Jamaica, N.Y.) recorded a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds; Danielle McCray (Kansas / Olathe, Kan.) also scored 12 points; and three U.S. players, Alexis Gray-Lawson (California / Oakland, Calif.), Jeanette Pohlen (Stanford / Brea, Calif.) and Kayla Pedersen (Stanford / Fountain Hills, Ariz.), contributed nine points.
'I thought the second half was great. We came out, jumped on them, got that 10-point cushion and really didn't relinquish it much the whole second half,' said USA and Arizona State University head coach Charli Turner Thorne. 'Poland's a good team. They're coached well, they played us well. They played their zone a lot differently than we had seen it on tape. They made adjustments for our inside game and made us beat them from the outside. Thank goodness (Danielle McCray) and (Jeanette) Pohlen and some other players hit some shots and did some good things.'
Despite shooting 4-of-8 from 3-point in the first quarter, including two threes from Gray-Lawson, the USA was a dismal 1-of-11 from inside the arc in the first 10 minutes. Poland used its 50.0 shooting from the field (8-16 FGs) and a 13-7 rebounding advantage to remain within one point, 18-17, as the teams headed to the bench for the first break.
'I think we all knew that eventually there would come a time where we wouldn't be blowing everybody out,' Gray-Lawson said. 'We just have to suck it up and play our game.'
Jacinta Monroe (Florida State / Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) put two points on the board just 15 seconds into the second period, but Poland had a response for every U.S. basket, and a three-point-play at 1:46 helped Poland tie the game at 32-32. With just 1:11 remaining before halftime, however, Pedersen converted on an offensive rebound and Pohlen followed with a 3-pointer to help the USA head to the locker rooms with a 37-32 lead.
'I thought we just fought hard, stuck together and ultimately that's what won the game,' Pohlen said. 'We made some big plays towards the end and really made some stops that we weren't getting in the first half. I think we definitely had a better second half effort.'
The run continued into the third period, which the USA opened with another 3-pointer from Pohlen, who finished 3-of-4 from deep, and a three-point play from Charles, and Poland called a timeout at 8:43 with the score at 43-32.
The USA reached its biggest lead of the game, 48-32, in the third, but Poland strung together a 6-2 run to cut the gap to seven, 55-48.
Poland never relented and came within three points with a basket at 8:28 that brought the score to 57-54, but the USA responded to each attack. Led by six fourth-quarter points from Pedersen, the USA outscored Poland 20-19 in the fourth quarter to secure the 75-67 win.
Tiffany Hayes (Connecticut / Lakeland, Fla.) scored eight points, Pedersen added eight rebounds, Jantel Lavender (Ohio State / Cleveland, Ohio) grabbed six rebounds, Danielle Robinson (Oklahoma / San Jose, Calif.) dished out six assists and Ashley Houts (Georgia / Trenton, Ga.) collected four steals.
Maya Moore (Connecticut / Lawrenceville, Ga.) suffered a sprained right knee during training and will not play in the World University Games.
Turner Thorne is assisted on the USA sideline by Suzy Merchant of Michigan State University and Julie Rousseau of Pepperdine University.
The U.S. squad will face Preliminary Group D's No. 1 seed Czech Republic at 3:00 p.m. (9:00 a.m. EDT) on Tuesday, July 7.
'The Czech Republic is the winner of their pool,' Turner Thorne said. 'They're a stronger team than Poland. They've got two really good scorers. They're very similar, in terms of run, transition offense, spread the floor, take us off the dribble attack, make the extra pass. I think they're going to play us more man, but at the same time (Poland) is the only team that hung around us and they played a zone. So if the Czechs have a zone, I'm sure we'll see it.'
After each team plays two games against their crossover opponents, the top two finishing teams in Groups E and F will advance to the medal semifinals on July 9. The bottom two teams will play for 5th-8th place. Results from the preliminary round for advancing teams carry over into the second round standings.
In today's other medal round games, Great Britain (2-1) will face Czech Republic (3-0) at 8:00 p.m. In Group F, Australia (4-0) beat Taiwan (2-2) 79-67 and Russia (3-0) will play Slovakia (2-1) at 8:00 p.m. tonight.
In the 9th-16th place Groups G and H, Turkey (1-3) topped Serbia (1-3) 85-76, Japan (2-2) beat Mozambique (0-4) 97-85, while France (0-3) will play China (1-2) and Canada (0-3) will play Hungary (1-2) at 8:00 p.m. tonight.