Barely three weeks after the Men’s U19 squad defeated Croatia to win the gold medal at the FIBA World Championships in Greece, the American Women’s team was able to also claim the U19 hardware over the weekend after defeating Russia in Chekhov.
All the details below, via USA Basketball:
Like it had done the entire tournament, the 2015 USA Basketball Women’s U19 World Championship Team (7-0) went inside early and often to capture a record sixth-straight and seventh overall FIBA U19 World Championship gold medal. Played in front of a packed full and deafening arena, the USA captured the gold medal in a 78-70 fight-to-the-finish victory against host Russia (6-1) on Sunday night in Chekhov, Russia.
Australia (6-1) earned the bronze medal after holding off Spain (3-4) 69-62.
A’ja Wilson (South Carolina/Hopkins, S.C.), who scored a USA U19 single-game record 30 points against Russia and averaged 18.3 points per game throughout the tournament, earned MVP honors. She was joined on the five-member all-tournament team by Napheesa Collier (Incarnate Word Academy/O’Fallon, Mo.), who had 10 points, 10 rebounds and six steals against Russia.
Also named to the all-tournament team were Russia’s Daria Kolosovskaia and Maria Vadeeva, as well as Alanna Smith of Australia.
“I had a great opportunity to work with A’ja and Napheesa last summer, so I think they were familiar with our style of play and how we like to play,” said USA U19 and University of South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley, who is a perfect 21-0 as a USA Basketball head coach. “It was great to have their veteran leadership coming into a tournament like this and also playing well throughout, just setting the tone and setting the example of how we need to play and how we need to approach it to win in a tight situation like tonight in the gold medal game.
“What we wanted to do was limit the amount of production from their top two scorers, Raisa Musina and Maria Vadeeva,” added Staley on her team’s plan heading into the game. “We just tried to cut their production in half to try to make other players beat us. Fortunately for us it kind of worked for long stretches in the game, but a team like Russia is not going to go away. They are a really good basketball team. They work well together. They are going to win a lot more basketball games. I hope we only see them in gold-medal games, because they are a crew that is hard to reckon with.”
Including tonight’s game, in which the Americans outscored their hosts 46-20 in the paint, over the seven games the squad averaged 49.1 points per game on its inside play, while limiting opponents to just 18.9 points near the basket. Further, the U.S. outrebounded Russia 48-35 and capped its seven games by averaging 56.9 rebounds to its opponents 35.3 a contest.
“It was so tough,” Wilson said of playing against host Russia. “I thought away games were tough, but playing an away game in a whole different country against the home team is just out of this world. They had such great fans that were nonstop cheering.
“It was great to win this medal, and to win against the host team is always great.”
Also scoring in double digits were Azurá Stevens (Duke/Raleigh, N.C.) with 18 points, 10 of which came in the first quarter, and six rebounds; while Chatrice White (Illinois/Shelby, Neb.) scored nine of her 10 points in the second half and grabbed five boards.