July 30, 2007
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Notre Dame rising sophomore guard Melissa Lechlitner (Mishawaka, Ind./South Bend St. Joseph’s) poured in 14 points, including a record-setting 10-of-10 free throws, as the United States blasted South Korea, 113-69, in a Group E second-round game at the FIBA U19 World Championships on Monday at NTC Arena in Bratislava, Slovakia. Lechlitner’s 14 points were her highest scoring output of the tournament thus far, and were part of an impressive balanced effort by the Americans (4-0), who had eight players score in double figures and saw all 12 players score for the third time in four games.
Lechlitner set two new USA Basketball U19 World Championship single-game records on Monday, establishing new high-water marks for free throws made (previous: nine by Alisha Jones vs. Cuba and Yulonda Wimbish vs. Australia, both in 1985) and free throw percentage (previous: 7-7 by Kristen Clement vs. Slovakia in 1997). The Notre Dame floor general also collected a rebound in a team-high 23 minutes of action, the third time she has led the team in court time during the U19 World Championships, despite not having started a game to date.
Jantel Lavender led the U.S. scoring onslaught with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Krystal Thomas notched her third double-double of the tournament with 13 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. The United States had its best shooting night of the tournament with a .566 field goal percentage (43-of-76), and had no trouble on the boards against the smaller Koreans, posting a massive 67-25 rebounding edge that included 22 offensive caroms. The red, white and blue and held South Korea (1-3) to a .280 field goal percentage (21-of-75), with Ajeong Kang coming off the bench to lead the Asian contingent with 16 points.
Monday’s game was never in doubt, as the United States fashioned a 19-2 run midway through the first quarter and bolted to a 33-13 lead after one period. The margin steadily increased the rest of the evening, reaching as wide as 46 points on two occasions in the fourth quarter. It was the second time in four games at this year’s U19 World Championships that the USA has topped the century mark, following a 101-60 preliminary-round win over China on July 27. What’s more, the 113 points the Americans scored against South Korea were the fourth-highest total ever amassed by a U.S. squad at the U19 event, trailing 124-point outings vs. Congo and South Korea, and a 116-point effort vs. Puerto Rico, all in 2005.
Through four games at the 2007 U19 World Championships, the United States is averaging 99.8 points per game while allowing its opponents just 51.0 points a night. The Americans also are shooting .489 from the field thus far, and holding foes to a .242 field goal percentage, and the U.S. is collecting 59.8 rebounds per game, compared to an average of 36.0 boards for the opposition.
The USA will continue second-round play in Group E Tuesday at 2:15 p.m. ET (8:15 p.m. in Bratislava) when it takes on Spain (3-1). The Americans defeated the Spainards, 79-71, on July 21 at the Pre-U19 World Championship Tournament in the Canary Islands. Live in-progress statistics from all games at the 2007 FIBA U19 World Championships can be found at the official tournament web site.
— ND —