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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Stewart, Tuck lead U.S. to win in U-19 opener

UConn rising sophomores and U.S.U-19 team co-captains Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck combined for 44 points as the United States rolled to a 113-47 win over host Lithuania in the first pool-play game for both teams at the FIBA U-19 World Championship for Women on Thursday.

Stewart hit her first six shots and had 19 points in the first quarter and finished with 26 points, five rebounds, two assists and three steals. Tuck added 18 points, five rebounds, six assists and three steals while Moriah Jefferson finished with eight points, two rebounds and three assists. All three UConn rising sophomores started for the U.S.

"The bright lights, she knows when it’s time to shine and she was just … her efficiency, too," Miami and U.S. head coach Katie Meier said. "She only missed two shots in the first half. She missed one three and one jumper. Her stroke was perfect and what I love about this team is that they were saying, ‘we’ll get it to Stewie. We have to feed Stewie.’ When she’s hitting her jumper, she’s very hard to guard. She was stroking it tonight."

UConn Class of 2014 recruiting target A'ja Wilson finished with nine points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots.

Tennessee rising sophomore Bashaara Graves had 13 points and seven rebounds while Northwestern incoming freshman Nia Coffey had 10 points.

The U.S. continues play in Pool D Friday against China before wrapping up the first stage of preliminary round play against Mali on Saturday. There will be live streams available beginning with the quarterfinals.

Here are quotes from Stewart and Tuck courtesy of USA Basketball.

Do you recall having a quarter like the one you had in the first quarter?
"I’m not sure. I don’t pay attention to that, but I’m sure I’ve been hot like that before."

Were you just feeling it or were you simply wide open?
"I think it was a mixture of both. They weren’t playing that great of a defense. It seemed that after a cut, you’d be open. But at the same time, there were some of my shots that just went in."

How were you able to pull away so quickly?
 "I think our full court pressure really helped. When we press like that and get them out of their sorts, we’re able to get a lot of breakaway layups in transition. It really helped us on offense. "

You all seemed to get a lot of easy steals. Was that the case?
"I don’t know. I think that maybe they weren’t expecting us to be as strong defensively, or something like that, but we were getting up in them and we knew we had to come out strong in the first quarter and really get things going for the bench and the rest of the team."

How hard is it to stay focused when you have such a big lead?
"It’s not that hard. You have to forget the score. You have to think about your team goals, you have to try to go after those and try to complete those."

What was it like to finally get the U19 World Championship started?
"It was a relief kind of. We were in training camp for a little bit and then finally getting out there for a game, it was a little different. It was nice to play a different team."

On Breanna Stewart’s performance in the first quarter:
"It was amazing. She was just on fire, hitting her shots. That’s something we needed to get us going. I’m hoping she can do that every game."

How were you able to pull away so quickly?
"Our group that started, we were really clicking on all cylinders. Our defense was good. Our press was really aggressive and we were getting our hands on the ball. We were really just running the floor. When Moriah (Jefferson) or Lex (Jones) would get a steal, then me, Bre (Stewart) and Bashaara (Graves) were just running the floor and getting layups."

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