July 15, 2013
NORMAN, Okla. -- Sherri Coale and Aaryn Ellenberg earned their first gold medals as Team USA defeated Russia 90-71 Monday in the World University Games Championship Final in Kazan, Russia.
It was the third consecutive and ninth overall World University Games title for USA Women's Basketball.
The United States never trailed after opening the game with an 11-2 lead and ending the first quarter 22-13.
"I'm so proud of them," Coale, head coach of the USA squad, said. "This is such a difficult thing. You can say, 'Look how good these players are,' and they are, they are very, very talented, but fitting all that together in a short amount of times against these teams that have years of experience together is a real challenge. I think our success speaks to the selflessness of these guys on this team who were willing to play roles, whatever those roles might be, different roles on different nights."
Ellenberg scored two points, her lowest total of the tournament, in 10 minutes on the court. Her lone score came at the end of the third quarter as Team USA opened a 68-47 lead.
"It's definitely an honor to be here in the first place," Ellenberg said. "It's been great to represent the USA and actually win gold."
Ellenberg averaged 9.2 points for the tournament, the fifth highest total on the team, and shared the team lead with nine 3-pointers made.
The United States and Russia had nearly identical 2-point field goal percentage, but the Americans shot 45 percent from beyond the arc while holding the Russians to 21 percent.
|USA 90, Russia 71 | Coale's Journal from Russia | USA Basketball Team Page|
The USA extended its advantage in the fourth quarter to as many as 24 points before cruising to the finish.
Connecticut's Bria Hartley scored 17 points to lead four Americans in double figures. Natalia Vieru totaled 13 points to lead Russia.
The tournament was Coale's first head coaching assignment for USA Basketball. Coale was previously an assistant coach on the bronze medalist 2001 Junior World Championship team.
Ellenberg is the third Sooner to win a World University Games gold medal as a player. Danielle Robinson won gold in the 2009 games in Belgrade, Serbia, and Caton Hill won in 2001 in Beijing, China.
"(Coach Coale has) been through the journey with me since I was a freshman," Ellenberg said, "so to experience this with her has just been awesome."
The World University Games are held biannually and are organized by the International University Sports Federation (FISU). The World University Games is a multi-sport competition open to men and women who are between the ages of 17 and 24 (born between January 1, 1989 and December 31, 1995), and are or have been within the past year, a student at a college or university.
USA Basketball women's teams have participated in 16 prior World University Games and collected a record eight golds, six silvers and one bronze medal. Further, since 1973, the first year the USA women competed in the WUGs, the United States has compiled a 101-15 record.