Aug. 14, 2001
Zhanjiagang, China - Purdue sophomore-to-be Shereka Wright (Copperas Cove, Texas) scored a game high 15 points as the 2001 Women's World University Games Team (1-0) earned a 76-53 victory over Australia in the opening game of the Dong Du Cup, a four-team round-robin tournament, which is being played in preparation for the World University Games.
"Shereka had a great game," said USA Basketball Women's World University Games and University of Virginia head coach Debbie Ryan. "She's a very athletic player and every time she was in the lineup, we saw that lineup perform well."
"We came out a little sloppy," said Wright. "But everybody was getting used to each other and I think everybody was a little bit excited. Towards the end we pulled it together and played better. I just wanted to come out and play hard. Playing out here is an honor so I want to give it everything I've got."
The first two quarters saw eight lead changes as neither team led by more than four points. With 3:54 to play in the first half, Oklahoma's Caton Hill (Ada, Okla.) sank two free throws to give the United States the lead. Jenny Roulier (Colorado / Englewood, Colo.) added five of her eventual 12 points in the last two minutes to put the USA ahead 36-29 at the half.
"We had a real slow start which was understandable because we were pretty badly jet-lagged from yesterday," added Ryan. "But I was happy with the way we responded in the second half. I thought we did a nice job of denying penetration, putting a little more pressure on Australia and that was really the difference in the game. Our defensive pressure made the difference in us getting started and helping us offensively."
The USA defense held Australia to seven points in the third quarter. Ayana Walker (Louisiana Tech / Houston, Texas), who recorded the game's only double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, led the USA in outrebounding Australia 54-26, while Carisse Moody (North Carolina State / Rocky Mount, N.C.) and Wright grabbed eight rebounds apiece. The USA women expanded their lead throughout the fourth quarter and sailed in for the 76-53 victory.
"I think tomorrow we'll have a little more togetherness playing out there," added Wright. "I think we'll be able to do better in our offense."
Ryan is assisted by University of Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder and East Carolina University (N.C.) head coach Dee Stokes.
The USA team's pre-World University Games action continues tomorrow as they face Canada, 87-70 losers to China in their tournament opener Tuesday, at 7:00 p.m. (and concludes on Thursday, Aug. 16 against China at 8:15 p.m.
The 2001 World University Games is expected to feature 19 teams that have been divided into four preliminary round pools. The United States is in Pool B with Canada, Japan and South Africa. The U.S. squad opens competition on Aug. 22 facing South Africa at 11:00 a.m., then meets Canada on Aug. 23 at 8:30 a.m., and concludes preliminary play against Japan on Aug. 25 at 7:00 p.m. 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.
2001 Zhangjiagang Tournament Schedule / Results
Tuesday, August 14
USA 76, Australia 53
China 87, Canada 70
Wednesday, August 15
7:00 p.m. USA vs. Canada
8:15 p.m. China vs. Australia