Monday, July 27, 2015
USA uses late 2nd quarter run to get by Russia in U 19 title game -- Monday Cardinal Couple
WILSON'S 30 PUSH USA BY PESKY RUSSIA 78-70
USA U 19 got 16 first half points from Azura Stevens and a U 19 record 30 points from A'ja Wilson to overcome and hold off Russia to take the U 19 title game by eight points in the finals at Chekhov, Russia Sunday.
This was a test of two teams that had blown by the competition by an average of over 30 points in their previous six games. A USA team that alternated three point guards looking for an answer against the superior Russia outside shooting and half court defense. In the end, the USA did it the way they'd been doing it all tournament long.
A back and forth 1st quarter that saw Russia gain an early lead and take a 21-19 lead after the first ten minutes.
Stevens was providing the offense...working hard inside against the Russian bigs. Russia finding success with the three ball. Mariya Moore reduced to basically a passer and defender with no first quarter points.
It got scary to start the 2nd quarter. Russia rolled off the first six points and USA was down eight. Dawn Staley called a timeout to right the ship against a pumped up opponent and loud and raucous home court crowd.
Whatever she said...worked.
USA climbed back to a 30-29 deficit after Moore found Stevens inside with 5:15 remaining. Moore would miss a three a couple of minutes later that would have put the Americans ahead...but a 9-2 run over the final three minutes...keyed by Wilson sweeping hook and a Moore pass to Napheesa Collier gave USA a 39-34 lead at the half.
Uncle Mo was on the American bench but the Russians weren't done by any means. Although they would not see the lead again, they made it interesting.
A Musina three three minutes into the 3rd quarter cut the USA lead to 43-41. Moore countered with a three for USA. Another Russian three with 4:27 left in the quarter made it 50-49. Center Chatrice White with an impropable but buzzer-beating three to end the third and USA held on to a 57-53 lead with ten minutes to play.
Moore struck again to start the final quarter for USA with a three to make it 60-53...but thee Russian went on a 10-5 run over the next three 3:20 to get within two at 65-63 after another Musina trey ball. Wilson countered inside with her 27th point of the game seconds later.
Moore's assist to White inside gave America a 70-65 lead with four minutes remaining. A steal and Wilson jumper three seconds later set the advantage at seven. The Russians were finally tiring and the Americans held 77-68 with a minute to go...Russia went 8 for 10 from trifecta range in the final 20 minutes.
Wilson was named MVP of the tournament and Napheesa Collier joined her on the All-Tournament team.
-- A'ja Wilson may be the best 19 year old women's player in the world...but Russia's Daria Kolosovskaia isn't far behind. Selected to the All-Tournament team, she tallied 19 points and made a mockery of the USA defense in the middle with her dribble-drive.
-- Mariya Moore with almost 37 minutes on the court...high for USA. Only six points but the glue that held USA together on the court. Every team needs a passer to set up the scorers and Moore fulfilled that role excellently in the final game.
-- Congratulations to a USA team that had its share of tough breaks and setbacks early on. The top two players of the 2015 Class (Durr and Samuelson) made the team but didn't make the trip and Shakayla Thomas left the squad after the Canada game to return stateside.
-- Kristine Anigwe did not play in the final and logged only two minutes in the semifinal win over Spain. No official word on any injury...but her play in the pool games was impressive.
-- Australia won the 3rd place game over Spain and France finished fifth. Egypt failed to win a game in seven attempts.
-- Those crazy ESPN3 announcers...referring to our #11 as "Marie" Moore. I expected to hear them use Mary Tyler Moore, Maya Moore or even Dinty Moore at some point in time. Obviously siding with the Russians, these two guys nearly lost a lung every time Russia scored. Let's hope they stay overseas...would hate to hear them tackle pronouncing "Arica", "Taja", "Emmonnie" or "Brianna".
-- I wish they would have let Walz and KBA stand on the podium for the awards ceremony. They were just as integral in the USA win as the rest of the squad.