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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

UConn trio stars in win over Canada


UConn rising sophomores Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson combined for 32 points to lead the U.S. to a 88-54 win over Canada in the FIBA U-19 World Championship for Women.

Stewart had 14 points and two blocked shots, Tuck had 13 points and four steals and Jefferson added five points, seven assists and three steals as the U.S. improved to 5-0 and is guaranteed to finish in the top two in Group F.

Duke rising sophomore Alexis Jones led the U.S. with 17 points to go with five rebounds and seven assists, Tennessee rising sophomore Bashaara Graves and Kentucky incoming freshman Linnae Harper added 10 points each while UConn Class of 2014 recruiting target A'ja Wilson had seven points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots.

The U.S. wraps up the round robin portion of the tournament playing undefeated France in a game that will decide the Group F title. The quarterfinals start on Friday. If the U.S. wins tomorrow, it will draw the No. 4 seed out of Group E which will be the winner of the  Russia/Japan game.

Heading into the final day of round-robin play Stewart is the tournament's second-leading scorer at 17.4 points per game and she is doing it with some pretty gaudy shooting numbers as she is 17 for 17 from the free-throw line, 6 of 9 from 3-point range and is shooting 56.1 percent from the field. Tuck is the tournament's No. 8 scorer (15.2 PPG) and is sixth in steals (2.6) while Jefferson leads all players in assist/turnover ratio (16 assists/3 turnovers). Wilson is tied for fifth in rebounding (9.2) and third in blocked shots (2.2).

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

MORIAH JEFFERSON
How much has Canada changed as a team since you played them in Lanzarote, Canary Islands?
I think they’re a lot more physical tonight. They came out, especially on defense, packing it in and being really aggressive. And then on offense they were very efficient.

Is that how they were able to keep the game close through most of the first half?
Yeah, basically. They came out running their sets well. They kind of took us out of our rhythm a little bit, but then we kind of got back in the flow after that.

On the play of Alexis Jones:
Incredible. She came out on fire, so I was like, ‘well, wherever Lex is, that’s where I’m going to try to get the ball to.’ I think we all as a team recognized it and we just fed the beast.

On the USA’s 22 assists on 35 baskets:
We want to be able to get a lot of scores off of assists, so that we don’t have to try to create our own shot. We can penetrate and kick or duck in for the post, things like that.

On the USA’s 19-0 run:
It was a combination of defensive pressure and Nia Coffey, honestly. She came in and got like three steals in a row, something like that, some assists, a couple buckets. She came in and made a huge improvement on the game.

How was Canada able to limit your scoring in the fourth quarter?
We kind of got out of our rhythm on offense. Once we got out of it, we never got that flow back and then we ended up having a five-minute run without scoring. That’s something that’s not acceptable. We’ll look over it in film and fix it .

BREANNA STEWART
On the USA’s 8-0 run to close out the first half:
First of all, I our defense wasn’t as good as it usually is and we were letting them get dribble penetration. But I think that once we really refocused and got ourselves together, we got back into it.

Were you looking past Canada, knowing you had beaten the team by 20 in the Canary Islands?
I don’t think we looked past them, but I think we needed to be more prepared on how hard they were going to come at us. This was a game they needed to win and we can’t let them do that, obviously.

What were they running against you?
They have a lot of sets. They go through their sets and they get the shot they want to get. We needed to really try to disrupt that and not let them get the shot they wanted and play our best defense on their best player.

On the play of Alexis Jones:
Lex played great. I think she recognized when she could take the ball to the basket if she was open and we need more of that.

What do you know about France?
They’re a very good and athletic team and I think that we really need to pick our stuff a little bit, pick it up defensively and be ready for them because they’re going to come at us strong tomorrow.

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