July 26, 2007
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Notre Dame rising sophomore guard Melissa Lechlitner (Mishawaka, Ind./South Bend St. Joseph’s) scored seven points, including six in a 36-0 first-half run, as the United States crushed Ivory Coast, 95-25, in Group B preliminary round play at the FIBA U19 World Championships on Thursday at NTC Arena in Bratislava, Slovakia. The Americans set a USA Basketball U19 World Championship record by allowing just 25 points, three fewer than the old mark the U.S. established in a 116-28 win over Puerto Rico in 2005.
Lechlitner came off the bench midway through the first quarter and wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, canning her first field goal attempt (a three-pointer) less than 90 seconds after taking the floor to help ignite the game-changing run. The Notre Dame point guard added two rebounds, two steals and one assist for the night, while converting 2-of-7 shots from the floor in a team-high 21 minutes of action. Krystal Thomas led four U.S. players in double figures with 17 points and also collected a game-high 12 rebounds for the Stars & Stripes, which shot 50 percent from the field.
The United States was particularly dominant at the defensive end, holding Ivory Coast without a point for nearly 13 minutes in the first half en route to the third-largest margin of victory in USA U19 World Championship history (behind the 2005 win over Puerto Rico and a 124-37 win over Congo that same year). The Americans also limited Ivory Coast to a .156 field goal percentage (10-of-64), outrebounded their African counterparts, 62-31, and forced 26 turnovers during the contest. Kani Kouyate was the only Ivory Coast player to score in double digits, ending up with 10 points.
The U.S. will continue preliminary round action in Group B Friday at 9:45 a.m. ET (3:45 p.m. in Bratislava) when it takes on China, a 67-48 winner over Lithuania on Thursday. Live in-progress statistics from all games at the 2007 FIBA U19 World Championships can be found at the official tournament web site.
— ND —