Tuesday, August 7, 2018
USA U 18 women advance to FIBA Americas final -- TUESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
CLOSE BEGINNING BUT STRONG FINISH FOR USA OVER COLOMBIA
Give the Colombia FIBA U 18 squad credit.
They came out fired up in their semifinal match against USA and gave the Jeff Walz coached squad a competitive game for 15 minutes. The Colombians actually led USA 26-25 with five minutes left in the second quarter. Turnovers by USA and some incredible play from Colombia's Yuliany Paz in the post and Maria Alvarez from three-point range had the Americans shaking their heads...but Walz and the players got things straightened out and a 17-0 run to end the first half got USA out of danger.
With a 19-18 lead at the end of the first quarter, USA was finding out that Colombia was not going to roll over for them. Colombia capitalized well off USA mistakes and Paz was punishing USA inside. But...the depth and the talent of Walz's squad finally kicked in and they took a 42-26 halftime lead. Colombia would make one final attempt to upset the Americans...cutting the lead to 11 at 51-40 with 4:54 left in the third quarter but it was all USA after that. A 58-41 lead after three and a strong 25-6 fourth quarter advances USA to the finals tonight against Canada.
The Canadians, also 5-0 now in FIBA Americas play, downed Chile 98-52 last night to get to the finals. All four teams (USA, Canada, Chile and Colombia) advance to the FIBA World Cup Championships.
Jeff Walz on the contest:
"It was a great basketball game. We knew it was going to be competitive and it was one we needed, because we needed to understand that when you have breakdowns -- physically or mentally -- good teams take advantage of that. And that's what Colombia did a fantastic job of - they really hurt us when we had breakdowns. And then we had different players step up for us and that's what's so exciting about this. Everybody is capable of playing big for us. I thought that the group that was out there for us at the end of the first half really gave us the big boost we needed and then we were able to continue".
That half ending group mentioned by Walz included three players that did all the scoring in the 17-0 run. Ashley Joens nailed two threes during the stretch, So did Rhyne Howard. Naz Hillmon-Baker contributed the other five points.
Jenna Brown led USA in scoring with 17 points...which included three threes. With 14 points were Joens and Howard. USA shot 10-23 from beyond the arc (43.5%) and out-rebounded Colombia 55-29. Maori Davenport collected 11 of those grabs. Sharpshooting Colombia guard Alvarez ended up with 19 points, hitting six three-pointers, and Paz added nine points and 10 rebounds.
USA and Canada face for the finals tonight at 9:30 and it can be viewed at:
These two squads faced in a scrimmage before the actual FIBA tournament got underway and USA took a 72-42 decision. It may not be as easy tonight for Walz and company. It should be a fun game to watch.
Let's hope for a better viewing tonight. Last night's internet broadcast was marred with "freezes", loss of signal and inadequate audio. From what was audible, you do have to acknowledge the Spanish-speaking crew that's calling these contests for their unfiltered and exciting emotion-filled delivery and comments anytime anyone but the USA does something good. They're trying to help grow the game in the Central and South America regions and that's good for all of basketball.
Facebook Live can be tricky....we get that. Ask our Cardinal Couple producer "Worldwide" Jeff McAdams about it. What is puzzling is that these games aren't being shown on any of the sports-themed television stations that dot other cable, dish or app-type viewing. Isn't there a ESPN, Fox, Univision or some other channel that could provide a feed?
Maybe trick billiards, underwater boxing, scrabble tournaments, miniature golf national championships and paraplegic tennis matches are deemed more important. I get e-mails about the "nothing-to-see-here" attitude that the "sports leaders" have toward the FIBA's. I guess it all has to do with ratings. Maybe competitive lawn-mowing will include me in their amateur bracket. I'm pretty quick with "turns" and my "straight-line cut" skills rank pretty highly here in the neighborhood for accuracy and length.
But, I digress. Go USA! Go get some tonight.
Some very pressing questions answered in the link below by USA U 18 players and coaches.
EMINA EKIC NAMED TO ALL-ACC PRESEASON WOMENS SOCCER TEAM
Women's soccer is the first fall sporting event we'll be covering live this season and it comes up on Sunday...with a 6 p.m. "friendly" against Morehead. There is a women's sports Fall Media Day going on Thursday and we'll report coverage of that on Friday. One of the teams that will be represented at the media event is women's soccer and UofL received great news that sophomore defender Emina Ekic was named to the preseason squad...as voted on by the 14 ACC coaches.
She also was chosen for the 2017 first team All-East Region Team at the end of last season, a team that is selected by the United States Soccer Coaches Association.
Ekic had a very impressive freshman campaign for the Cards...who were voted to finish ninth in the preseason ACC poll. She led the 2017-18 Kickin' Cards with seven goals and was named co-Freshman of the Year in the ACC. Ekic, who attended high school locally here at Louisville Manual, had 17 starts for Louisville last season. Hopefully, she'll be at Fall Sports Media Day Thursday so we can get a few comments from her.
Congratulations to "E squared" and Uofl women's soccer!