|UConn commit Katie Lou Samuelson was the leading scorer for the gold-medal|
winning United States team at the FIBA U17 World Championship tournament
With UConn commit Katie Lou Samuelson dealing with foul trouble throughout the game and Spain's Angela Salvadores torching whichever United.States player attempted to guard her, the U.S. needed others to deliver to lead the two-time defending championship to a third straight gold medal to a 77-75 victory
It was UConn recruiting targets Lauren Cox, Asia Durr and Arike Ogunbowale who stepped to the forefront. Cox had 20 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocks while Durr finished with 17 points and four assists and Ogunbowale had 15 points and eight rebounds. The trio combined to score the final 10 points for the U.S.
Cox grabbed an offensive rebound in transition and scored to snap a 71-71 tie and blocked a shot at the other end while Durr had a crucial jumper to help the U.S. survive a fierce challenge from Spain.
Salvadores had 40 points, hitting 16 of 29 shots from the field including 5 of 7 from 3-point range in a truly sensational performance. She was named the tournament's MVP while Samuelson was joined on the all-tournament team by her U.S. teammate Joyner Holmes. Salvadores had 13 points in the fourth quarter as Spain led for nearly 4 1/2 minutes in the final period. She ended up as the tournament's leading scorer (19.9 points per game), was first in steals (3.7), second in assists (3.6), third in 3-point percentage (50.0), fourth in field-goal percentage (49.6), sixth in assist/turnover ratio (0.8) and 10th in rebounding (7.4).
Samuelson finished with seven points and three rebounds while fellow UConn commit De'Janae Boykin had five points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals.
|Asia Durr finishes FIBA U17 tournament|
ranked second in assist/turnover ratio
|Lauren Cox nearly had a triple-double in title|
game at FIBA U17 World Championships
Samuelson finished with a team-leading 97 points and 19 3-pointers in the seven games. She finished tied for seventh in scoring which finished tied for seventh among all tournament scorers and was second in 3-pointers made. Durr (13.4 points per game), Ogunbowale (10.7) and all-tournament selection Joyner Holmes (10.6) were the other double-digit scorers for the U.S. in the tournament. Durr also finished second in the tournament in assist/turnover ratio.
Cox finished as the team leader in rebounding (8.4) and blocked shots (19), finishing fifth and second in those categories in the tournament. Cox set the single game and tournament U.S. records in blocked shots while Samuelson's 19 3-pointers matched the U.S. mark set by Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis in 2010. UConn commit De’Janae Boykin, one of three U.S. players to start all seven games, averaged 5.1 points. She was the team’s second-leading rebounder (6.1) and tied for second on the team with 16 assists.
Here are quotes from Boykin, Cox, Durr, Sabrina Ionescu, Ogunbowale and Samuelson courtesy of USA Basketball.
What does it mean to get a second gold medal?
This means a lot to be world champions, it’s great, it’s a great feeling.
What did you think about the game against Spain?
It was a very intense game; very hard, they worked very hard. They’re a great team and so were we, we came out and worked hard and we got the W.
What does this experience mean to you?
This experience means a lot. Just to come out here, we’ve been out here for almost a month, just to come together as a team and come out here and work and it just means a lot that we got the win today.
What do you think is going to stay with you from this experience?
Just this experience, knowing I’m part of the USA Basketball family and stuff like that.
On winning the gold medal:
It’s awesome. It’s a great experience. I’m really blessed to be here to play with this amazing team and these awesome coaches.
On her game against Spain:
I just came into the game wanting to work hard and play hard inside. I knew it was going to be tough. They have big girls inside, so I just had to work hard.
Was there ever any doubt that you might not win?
Spain’s a good team, so we just had to get out there, play good defense and convert on offense.
What’s been the best part of this experience for you?
Spending time with this awesome team. These coaches are awesome, too. It’s just been a great experience.
On the gold medal game against Spain:
It was definitely a fight. They have some great shooters on their team. One girl put up 40 or so. It was a hard-fought game for 40 minutes.
Were you ever nervous, were there ever any doubts?
It wasn't doubt. It was pressure, of course, because they were making every single shot. So, there was definitely pressure.
Do you feel like you executed the game plan or was it all heart?
It was both. We came out there, fought hard and played like there was no other game out there.
Was it the USA’s depth that helped in the end?
Definitely. We have a group of girls who are 12 deep and they all went out there and played their hearts out.
What does it feel like to win your second gold medal?
It’s definitely a blessing. I thank God for all of this.
What will you take away from this experience?
Meeting a new group of girls, playing with a great group of girls and winning another gold.
What does it feel like to win a gold medal?
It feels great. We’ve been practicing for the last, I don’t even know how long, and to finally come here and achieve what we’ve been reaching for this whole time feels great.
What do you think is going to stick with you?
Definitely the whole learning experience. I’ve learned a lot from Coach Sue and the coaching staff and these girls. It’s a blessing playing with all of these great players so I think playing with all of them gets you better individually and as a team player.
Is there an area in your game you feel like you got specifically better at?
I think the fact that it takes all 12 players to win a gold medal; it’s not just one or two individuals. So the fact that everybody came together through these last couple of weeks; not knowing each other and just coming in and playing and working hard and winning a gold medal.
On the game:
I love close games. It was nerve-wracking and crazy, but we kept our composure and played hard.
What do you think was the difference?
They’re a great team, a well-coached team. They’re physical and they have skill like us, so we just had to try to play greater than them. We played really good. They played great, too. But we had to execute at the end of the game and we hit our free throws, which were crucial.
Were you nervous at all?
There’s always nervousness going into big games, but we knew what we had to do. So, we were okay.
What’s it like to win your third gold medal?
It’s crazy. I’m super excited. I’m super blessed to be able to do this before my senior year and everything that USA Basketball has helped me with, so I’m super blessed.
What have you learned from this experience?
Never give up. We were down in the fourth quarter and we just kept going. Really, just never give up and work with your teammates.
Katie Lou Samuelson
On being named to the all-tournament team:
It’s amazing. I’m just in shock that it all happened that way. I thought I played solid, but I didn’t expect anything like that. I wasn’t trying to go for anything like that, but it’s amazing just to be able to get that and to win the gold medal. It’s amazing.
How does it feel to win your third gold medal?
It’s amazing. It never gets old. It’s the same feeling every time. But, this one was really special. It was such a close game and we played well all the way through to the end. So, it was amazing.
What did you learn from this tournament?
I learned that I have to trust my teammates and just rely on them, because they’re going to come through. I thought everyone played great today. Everyone stepped up when they needed to.
MILESTONES FOR FORMER HUSKIES
A pair of former UConn stars reached scoring landmarks in the WNBA.
Diana Taurasi moved by Katie Smith to become the second all-time leading scorer in the WNBA. Taurasi headed into today's game against Los Angeles with 6,457 points in 316 career regular-season games. Smith scored 6,452 points in 482 career games. After the 87-69 win over Chicago on Wednesday Taurasi said she considered Tina Thompson's WNBA record 7,488 points to be unreachable for her. I'm not so sure as if she continues to score at the 20 point per game rate she has maintained since arriving in the league, she would need 52 more games to get there.
Speaking of impressive stats, five of the WNBA top scorers played at UConn including four on the 2002 national championship team. Swin Cash and Sue Bird rank 14th and 16th on the career scoring charts with 4,731 and 4.678 points respectively. Nykesha Sales is 24th with 3,955 points and Asjha Jones checks in at No. 27 with 3,834 points.
As for the other milestone, Renee Montgomery scored her 2,000th career point in Saturday's win at Tulsa.
Labels: Arike Ogunbowale, Asia Durr, Asjha Jones, DeJanae Boykin, Diana Taurasi, Katie Lou Samuelson, Lauren Cox, Sabrina Ionescu, Sue Bird, Swin Cash