Breanna Stewart leads U.S. to U-19 title
Her UConn teammates Morgan Tuck (6 points, 4 rebounds) and Moriah Jefferson (four points, three rebounds, five assists and four steals) helped the U.S. to win the title for the fifth straight time. It was the second U-19 gold medal for Stewart and Tuck as well as Duke rising sophomore Alexis Jones who finished with nine points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
UConn Class of 2014 recruiting target A'ja Wilson added four points, four rebounds and a steal for the U.S.
France which was within two points of the U.S. late in the round-robin game between the teams, only trailed by seven points at halftime but the three Huskies combined for 14 points as the U.S. outscored France 20-6 in the third quarter to break the game open.
Stewart led the U.S. in scoring and was fourth overall averaging 16.9 points per game aided by going 14 of 24 from 3-point range and 26 of 28 from the free-throw line in the nine games. She also averaged 6.2 points, 1.4 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. Tuck led the squad with 19 steals and was the second-leading scorer (13.1 PPG) and she also averaged 4.7 rebounds and 2 assists per contest. Jefferson averaged 4 points, 2.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.8 steals a game while Wilson, one of three rising high school seniors on the team, led the U.S. with an average of 7.9 rebounds per game (which placed her seventh overall in the tournament) and also had a team-best 15 blocked shots while posting 10.9 points per game.
The 152 points breaks Maya Moore's U.S. U-19 record set in 2007 while Tuck's 118 points in 10th on the U.S. all-time list. Only Nneka Ogwumike and Jantel Lavender have pulled down more rebounds for a U.S. team in the U-19/World Junior Championship than the 71 Wilson grabbed. Tuck's 19 steals is tied for fourth and one of those she is tied with is Tamika Catchings. On last historical note, the last time the U.S. failed to win the gold medal the head coach was Geno Auriemma.
This wraps up the USA Basketball participation for the UConn players this summer. Bria Hartley and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis were outstanding in leading the U.S. to the gold medal in the World University Games while Tuck and Stewart return with their second U-19 gold medal.
Here are quotes from Stewart and Tuck courtesy of the folks at USA Basketball.
How different was this world championship gold from the other golds you’ve won with USA Basketball?
It was different because I had a different role. Usually I’m not one of the older players and coming into it I was looked at as a veteran because I’ve been in these situations before I’ve had to play well and try to lead my team at the same time.
What was the key to the victory?
Definitely defense. You could see that they scored 20 points in the first half and then only eight in the second. I think that we really wanted to make a third quarter run and we did that, starting with our defense, which led to transition offense.
Yeah. I was just having fun this tournament. I was really looking forward to it. Shots were falling, which is always really nice, but the gold is the most important thing.
On becoming the USA’s all-time leading U19 World Championship scoring leader:
I think that’s news to me. Coach Meier said it after the game. But, it’s just points. You could score points and still lose the game. I’m just happy that we won the game.
Do you think your leadership role on this team is going to help you next season at Connecticut?
I definitely think it is going to help me. At UConn I was obviously an underclassman, but being really able to try to create more of a leadership role for myself, I think that will only help me at UConn.
What did you learn from this coaching staff?
From this coaching staff I learned a lot. It’s a great group of coaches from top D1 schools. I was very excited to be able to play under them. They’re on the same level that I am and I think they helped me create more of a leadership role and helped me play well.
What was the key to tonight’s victory?
I definitely think it was defense. In the second we only gave up eight points. We really focused on defending them and not letting them score. If they can’t score, they can’t win.
How does it feel to win an NCAA championship in the same year as your second U19 World Championship gold medal?
It feels great. To come out here and do it twice and with a totally different team, I think it just accounts to what USA Basketball is all about, winning gold medals.
On Breanna Stewart’s performance:
She did really well. When she was open, taking her shots and taking good shots at that. I feel like she really came out, played her game, didn’t worry about anything else and just showed what Breanna Stewart can do.