USA Women Crush Czech Republic 115-78, Advance To Semifinals As Undefeated No. 1 Seed
July 7, 2009 - Belgrade, Serbia
Led by 20 points from Tina Charles (Connecticut / Jamaica, N.Y.), the 2009 USA Women's World University Games Team (5-0) featured five players in double figures as it crushed Czech Republic (4-1) 115-78 on Tuesday afternoon in Belgrade, Serbia.
The USA advances to the medal semifinals as Group E's No. 1 seed, and will play No. 2 seeded Australia (4-1) at 5:30 p.m. local time (11:30 a.m. EDT) on Thursday, July 9. Also today, Russia (5-0) beat Australia (4-1) to secure Group F's No. 1 seed and will play Czech Republic at 8:00 p.m. on July 9th. The two semifinal winners will meet in the July 11th gold medal game at 3:00 p.m. (9:00 a.m. EDT), while the semifinal losers will battle for the bronze medal at 12:30 p.m. on the 11th.
'This was much better; it was a big improvement over Poland,' said USA and Arizona State University head coach Charli Turner Thorne. 'Anytime you can outrebound a team by 30, you're going to be happy. I thought we controlled the boards and we controlled the game. They responded well after the Poland game. They really came back with a greater sense of urgency, better focus, better energy. I think that if we can carry this into the medal round, we're going to be in great shape.'
In addition to Charles, who reached her game high 20 points in 18 minutes, Tiffany Hayes (Connecticut / Lakeland, Fla.) was 4-of-6 from 3-point to tally 16 points, Danielle McCray (Kansas / Olathe, Kan.) added 15 points and seven rebounds, Ashley Houts (Georgia / Trenton, Ga.) contributed 13 points and Jantel Lavender (Ohio State / Cleveland, Ohio) scored 10 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out a game-high four assists.
'I think we always want to come out aggressive and be the one that sets the tone, be the one that pushes first before they push us,' Charles said. 'I think we did a great job with that.'
With the exception of a 6-0 U.S. run in the first quarter that included Hayes' first 3-pointer, the game's first 10 minutes were evenly matched, and the scoreboard read 28-20 in the USA's favor at the first break.
Czech put the second period's first points on the board at 9:51, but the USA responded with a 13-0 run that included five points from Charles and prompted a Czech timeout at 5:53, when Lavender converted a steal and an assist from McCray. The timeout did not slow the Americans, however, as the USA went on to shoot a sizzling 14-of-18 from the field (.778) in second period to outscore Czech 35-17 and take an insurmountable 63-37 lead into the halftime locker room.
'Coach has been telling us to focus on getting better after each game,' said Ta'Shia Phillips (Xavier / Indianapolis, Ind.). 'After that close game against Poland we realized that it's going to take a little more than our slightest effort. We have to prove that we're the best team here. That's what we wanted to do today, come out and play hard.'
Czech Republic, which was led by 18 points from Romana Hejdova, refused to quit in the second half, but could not counter the USA's size or speed. The USA won the battle of the boards 51-21, converted 16 points off turnovers and finished with a 58.9 shooting percentage from field (43-73 FGs).
Kayla Pedersen (Stanford / Fountain Hills, Ariz.) just missed a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds, Phillips grabbed seven rebounds to go with her nine points and Jacinta Monroe (Florida State / Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) also tallied nine points.
'We scrimmaged (Australia) for three quarters. They're always good, they play great basketball. They're aggressive, a good defensive team and they have a post player who scored about 35 the other night,' Tuner Thorne said. 'So they have a good inside attack and then some good shooting guards. I think we're familiar with them; that's kind of a nice thing. What I have to make sure of is, what happens in a scrimmage and what happens in the medal round are two totally different things. We have to make sure our team realizes that this is going to be a much different game, a much tougher game than that scrimmage.'
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, Taiwan (2-3) beat Slovakia (3-2) 75-65 and Poland (2-3) topped Great Britain (3-2) 74-64. On July 9, Poland will play Slovakia at 5:30 p.m. and Taiwan will play Great Britain at 8:00 p.m. The winners will advance to play for 5th place at 8 p.m. on July 10, and the losers will compete for 7th place at 5:30 p.m.