Aug. 30, 2001
BEIJING, China - Controlling the game from start to finish, the USA Basketball Women's World University Games Team (6-1) easily defeated Lithuania (5-3), 70-49, to earn a spot in the gold medal game against China (6-1) Aug. 31 at 7:00 p.m. at the Capital Gymnasium.
"Our pressure defense bothered Lithuania a little bit and we were able to get a good lead to start the game which we never really relinquished," said USA and University of Virginia head coach Debbie Ryan. "We had to prepare very hard for Lithuania today. We knew they had very good players and we were very concerned about their inside out game. We had to prepare this morning for their offensive game because they are such a great offensive team. We spent most of our time on how to defend them because they spread the floor so well."
In the game's first 54 seconds, the Lithuanians were held to the USA's side of the court as the Americans went on a 7-0 scoring run and forced two Lithuanian turnovers. Nine points from Tennessee's Kara Lawson (Alexandria, Va.) put the USA squad ahead 18-9 at the end of the first period. Ayana Walker (Louisiana Tech / Houston, Texas) contributed 13 points in the second quarter, while grabbing a game-high eight rebounds throughout the game. Lithuania pulled within five points of the USA, 28-23, with 2:23 to go in the first half, but that was as close as they would come as the USA women responded with a 9-2 run to end the half with a 37-25 advantage over Lithuania.
In the second half, the USA bench took over, extending the Americans' lead to 21, 57-36, at the end of the third quarter. Lindsey Yamasaki (Stanford / Oregon City, Ore.) sank three 3-pointers while Caton Hill (Oklahoma / Ada, Okla.) recorded five points and five rebounds. The USA team went up by as many as 23 points with 3:44 to go, 67-44, before sailing in for the 70-49 win.
It's hard to play four games in four days," said Lawson. "You have to credit our subs today. Caton (Hill) had a great game and then Lindsey (Yamasaki) came in and played well along with Shaq (Williams). That's the strength of our team - depth. We're able to wear teams down and pull away. I'm just happy to be on a team with 12 solid players which we'll need to win the gold."
Four USA players scored in the double digits as Walker tallied 15, Yamasaki scored 13 and Lawson and Jenny Roulier (Colorado / Englewood, Colo.) added 11 and 10 respectively. The USA stole the ball 14 times while Lithuania came up with only four steals.
The USA and China have played each other twice in the past two weeks with the Americans winning both games. The first meeting was on Aug. 16 in Zhangjiagang, China where the USA women defeated the Chinese 92-89 in the final game of the Dong Du Cup. The teams met again on Aug. 28 in the quarterfinal round of the World University Games where the Americans earned an 89-78 victory over China.
"China has an excellent team and they are very well balanced inside and outside," added Ryan. "They have excellent players and an excellent coach. They will be well prepared for us. We are going to be excited and prepared because this is the gold medal game. We will be working very hard tomorrow morning to get ready to play in the game."
The bronze medal game features Lithuania and the Czech Republic (5-2) at 3:00 p.m.
The World University Games, held every two years and organized by the International University Sports Federation (FISU), is a multi-sport competition open to men and women between the ages of 17 and 28 (born between Jan. 1, 1973 and Dec. 31, 1983) and who are, or have been within the past year, a student at a college or university. The USA Women have enjoyed outstanding success in the World University Games and have earned 11 medals in 12 appearances, including four golds, six silvers and one bronze medal, and have compiled an overall record of 74-15 (83.1 winning percentage) since beginning World University Games play in 1973. In the last competition, which was held in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, the U.S. finished with a 4-2 record and the silver medal. The USA Women last earned the World University Games gold in Sicily in 1997.