July 24, 2009
BANGKOK, Thailand — After seeing its 18-game winning streak at the FIBA U19 World Championships snapped on Thursday, the United States started a new success string on Friday evening with a wire-to-wire 88-53 blowout of China in Group D preliminary round action at the Bangkok Thai-Japan Youth Center in Bangkok, Thailand. With the victory, the Americans (1-1) are poised to advance to the second round of the U19 tournament and continue down the road in defense of their back-to-back gold medals in 2005 and 2007.
For the second consecutive game, Notre Dame incoming freshman guard and USA co-captain Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) scored 13 points, connecting on 6-of-10 shots from the floor, and added game highs of six assists and two steals. Co-captain Nnemkadi Ogwumike paced the United States with a double-double (18 points, 14 points), while Kelsey Bone chalked up 16 points for the Stars & Stripes, which shot 48.8 percent from the floor (40-of-82) and dominated the Chinese on the backboard with a 54-26 rebounding margin.
Shuang Zhao led China with 12 points, but she was the only player for her side to score in double figures. The U.S. defense stood tall in the victory, holding the Chinese to 29.3 percent shooting (22-of-75) while forcing 18 turnovers.
“We did do a great job in transition and limited China’s transition game,” said Carol Owens, USA and Northern Illinois University head coach (and Notre Dame assistant coach from 1996-2005). “They wanted to get out and run, make or miss. We were very aggressive defensively, especially Skylar (Diggins) and Sammy (Prahalis) on the perimeter, they did a great job. Kelly Faris came off the bench and did a tremendous job for us. Our team collectively came with the right mentality tonight. This is the beginning of playing the way USA Basketball plays.”
Bone got the USA started with a put-back for the first two of the USA’s eventual 16 second-chance points only 14 seconds into the game. Bone scored six of the USA’s first 10 points and Ogwumike notched the other four, as the American women opened on a 10-2 tear less than three minutes into the contest. By the 3:37 mark in the first quarter, Ogwumike already had seven points and the U.S. was up by double digits, 17-6. By the end of the period the USA’s lead was 23-15 with 16 points coming from the paint.
The U.S. continued to pull away and by halftime the gap was up to 15 points, 40-25, and Ogwumike was one board shy of her double-double with 14 points and nine rebounds.
It didn’t take long in the second half for the USA to jump to a more comfortable advantage. Diggins grabbed a Chinese pass, got it to Samantha Prahalis (Ohio State / Dix Hills, N.Y.), who fed it to Shenise Johnson (Miami, Fla. / Henrietta, N.Y.) for an easy bucket to get things rolling at 9:23. Bone hit the next two buckets, the second a put-back and with 18:12 remaining in the contest, the red, white and blue was up by 21 points, 46-25. The U.S. continued to cruise and by the end of the third quarter was up 66-41. The Americans then outscored the Chinese 22-12 in the fourth quarter for the eventual win.
The United States wraps up first-round Group D play at the U19 World Championships on Saturday at 8:45 a.m. ET (7:45 p.m. local) when it faces Mali at the Bangkok Thai-Japan Youth Center. Mali (0-2) lost its first two group-stage games to China (86-60) and Spain (89-35), and with a victory, the USA can clinch second place in Group D and book its place in second-round pool play, which will take place July 27-29. The top four squads in each second-round division then will advance to the medal round.
The quarterfinals, semifinals and finals will be played on consecutive days from July 31-Aug. 2, with the gold medal game slated for 7 a.m. ET on Aug. 2. The full tournament schedule is available on the USA Basketball U19 National Team web page at www.usabasketball.com, and the official 2009 FIBA U19 World Championships web page at thailand2009.fiba.com.
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NOTE: USA Basketball contributed to portions of this press release.