July 28, 2007
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – Notre Dame rising sophomore guard Melissa Lechlitner (Mishawaka, Ind./South Bend St. Joseph’s) collected three steals and two assists in 18 minutes as the United States cruised to a 90-50 win over Lithuania in its final preliminary-round game at the FIBA U19 World Championships on Saturday night at NTC Arena in Bratislava, Slovakia. The USA (3-0) won Group B and has advanced to second round action at the World Championships, beginning Monday against South Korea.
Although Lechlitner was held scoreless (0-4 FG, 0-2 3FG) for the first time in six games (three exhibition, three tournament) on her current USA Basketball tour, she remains a vital cog in the American reserve unit. Her three steals were part of an 18-theft performance by the Stars and Stripes, who forced 27 Lithuanian turnovers and held their Baltic opponents to a .267 field goal percentage (16-of-60), including a .105 three-point efficiency (2-of-19).
Offensive balance also has been a constant for the United States, which had four players score in double figures and scored at least 90 points for the third consecutive game. Monica Wright and Jantel Lavender led the way with 16 points apiece, while Jasmine Thomas scored 14 points and Maya Moore added 13 points. Allyssa DeHaan had nine rebounds to lead the USA, which was beaten on the glass for the first time in the U19 World Championships (48-42).
Marina Solopova was the lone player to score in double digits for Lithuania (1-2) on Saturday, coming off the bench to drop home 13 points.
As was the case throughout the preliminary round of the tournament, the United States led from the opening tip to the final horn, jumping out to a 19-4 lead less than six minutes into the game. Wright and Lavender did most of the early damage, combining for 13 points in that stretch. Lithuania bounced back and got as close as 23-15 when Solopova canned a three-pointer with 39 seconds left in the first quarter. However, the USA reeled off the next 18 points, courtesy of six different players, and was never seriously threatened again.
The United States will begin second-round Group E play on Monday at 2:15 p.m. ET (8:15 p.m. in Bratislava) against South Korea. The Americans also will face Spain (Tuesday) and the host nation, Slovakia (Wednesday) during this portion of the U19 World Championships, with China and Lithuania joining the U.S. in Group E. The top four teams from the six-team Group E will advance to the tournament quarterfinals and remain in medal contention. Live in-progress statistics from every game at the U19 World Championships can be found at the official tournament web site.
— ND —