July 19, 2007
SANTA CRUZ DE LA PALMA, Canary Islands – Notre Dame rising sophomore guard Melissa Lechlitner (Mishawaka, Ind./South Bend St. Joseph’s) had a strong performance in her USA Basketball debut, coming off the bench to score eight points and add two steals in 15 minutes of action as the USA U19 World Championship Team defeated Australia, 64-62 in an exhibition game Thursday night in the Canary Islands. It was the first of three exhibitions for the Americans, who will face Brazil (Friday) and Spain (Saturday) before heading to Bratislava, Slovakia next week to open play in the FIBA U19 World Championship.
Against Australia on Thursday, Lechlitner canned 2-of-3 shots from the floor, including her only three-point attempt (one of just two treys the U.S. had on the night). She also converted 3-of-4 free throws and committed only one turnover, dodging the giveaway bugs that plagued the Americans to the tune of 32 turnovers. Virginia rising sophomore Monica Wright led the USA with 14 points, while Connecticut freshman-to-be Maya Moore tacked on 10 points, and Ohio State incoming freshman Jantel Lavender sank the game-winning putback with 0.6 seconds remaining.
“There was a lot of good play, but basically we made a ton of mistakes,” said USA U19 and DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno. “I think that’s to be expected with how little time we’ve had to practice, but we have to clean up our game, and we won’t make any excuses. We had some opportunities where we were in position to put the game away, and we didn’t. We don’t know each other well enough yet. The coaches don’t know the players yet, and it’s just been too fast. But that’s why we are here in the Canary Islands — to come together as a team.”
Lechlitner and the USA U19 National Team will return to action Friday at 1 p.m. (ET) against Brazil in another exhibition game in the Canary Islands. Saturday’s matchup with Spain also will tip off at 1 p.m. (ET). The U.S. opens the U19 World Championship on July 26 with a Group B opening-round game against Ivory Coast.
— ND —