Aug. 25, 2001
BEIJING, China - In their final game of preliminary round play, the USA Basketball Women's World University Games Team (2-1), beat out Japan (1-2), 106-66, for second place in pool B and one of eight spots in the medal round. All 12 Americans scored against the Japanese, led by Kara Lawson's (Tennessee / Alexandria, Va.) 25 points. The USA squad begins three days of quarterfinal play on Monday, August 27 against Russia at 11:00 a.m (local).
Oklahoma's Caton Hill (Ada, Okla.) shot 75 percent from the field, hitting three of four attempts, dished out two assists, had one steal and one defensive board all in just seven minutes of action.
"This win was really refreshing," said Hill. "In the last game (versus Canada) we lost our flow and our chemistry, but in this game we definitely found them. We had fun playing today and against Canada we lost the feeling of fun during the game. Japan was definitely a great win for us."
Japan went up 2-0 to start the game, however that would be their only lead of the game as the Americans responded with nine unanswered points, leading 21-16 at the end of the first quarter. With 7:12 to play in the second period, the Japanese hit two consecutive 3-pointers to come within one point of the USA, 23-22. But that was as close as Japan would get as Ayana Walker (Louisiana Tech / Houston, Texas) scored six points in the last two minutes of the half to put the U.S. squad on top 42-32.
In the second half, the USA team picked up the pace, outscoring Japan 33-18 in the third quarter and 31-16 in the fourth, cruising to their 106-66 victory over Japan. Walker finished with 18 points, followed by Stanford's Lindsey Yamasaki (Oregon City, Ore.) and Vanderbilt's Ashley McElhiney (Gleason, Tenn.) with 14 and 11 respectively. The USA women held Japan to 29.4% (5-17) from behind the arc, while shooting 72.2% (13-18) themselves from 3-point range.
"I think we focused a little bit better on playing with our hearts rather than trying to force things," said USA Basketball Women's World University Games and University of Virginia head coach Debbie Ryan. "We just settled down a little bit in terms of focusing on what we had to do today, not worrying about tomorrow and not thinking about yesterday. We really just went out and played good defense which is what fueled our offense and got us the lead early. Then we really started to execute on offense which helped a lot."
With the win the USA women claim second place in preliminary pool B, sending them into quarterfinal pool E with Brazil, China and Russia. The squad will face Russia on Aug. 27 at 11:00 a.m., then meet China on Aug. 28 at 11:00 a.m., and will conclude quarterfinal play against Brazil on Aug. 29 at 7:00 p.m. All times are local.
"In the next pool we're going to face tougher competition in a different way," added Ryan. "Japan was a very difficult team to play because they play such a difficult style. Now we'll settle down with teams that play more our style of basketball. We'll face very good opponents with Russia, China and Brazil in our bracket. It'll be a very difficult pool, but we'll be ready. We played very well tonight and I think we definitely learned our lesson playing Canada."
Ryan is assisted by University of Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder and East Carolina University (N.C.) head coach Dee Stokes.
The 2001 World University Games features 17 teams that have been divided into four preliminary round pools. Tournament quarterfinals play gets underway Aug. 27, with semifinals being conducted Aug. 30 and the medal games being held Aug. 31. All times are local Beijing, China time which is 12 hours ahead of EDT.
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 68-14 (82.9 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.