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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Current, future UConn stars go for gold

The UConn women's basketball finds itself in the spotlight even in the middle of July.

A memorable day featuring current and future Huskies began when incoming freshman Napheesa Collier had 13 points, a game-high 14 rebounds including eight on the offensive end to go with five assists and three steals as the United States squad opened play in the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women with a hard-earned 73-57 win over Spain, a team that finished fourth or higher in the last four U-19 events.
UConn commit Crystal Dangerfield came off the bench for eight points, three assists and two steals. More importantly, Collier and Dangerfield did not commit a turnover while combining to play 43:57. Louisville's Mariya Moore and UConn recruiting target Lauren Cox joined Collier and Dangerfield as the only U.S. players to play at least 10 minutes and not commit a turnover.
Next up was Kia Nurse trying to help Canada clinch the top seed in Group B at the Pan Am Games.
Canada, coming off a sixth-place finish, had already secured a spot in the semifinals before meeting up with Cuba in a showdown of 2-0 teams.
Nurse finished with seven points and four rebounds in a 71-68 victory but her greatest contribution came on defense. In the third quarter Nurse, the youngest player on the Canadian team, has given the defensive assignment on Cuba's top scorer Yamara Amargo.

The 30-year-old Amargo, who averaged 17.5 points in Cuba's first two games, had four points in the first 1:13 of the third quarter giving her 10 in the game. However, with Nurse shadowing Cuba's top offensive threat most of the way in the final two quarters, she managed just two points for the remainder of the game.

The win not only gives Canada a chance for its first Pan Am medal since winning the silver medal in 1999 but enabled them to draw Brazil instead of the U.S. in today's semifinals.

The U.S. clinched the top spot in Group A with a 93-77 win over Puerto Rico in a game much closer than the final score might indicate. Puerto Rico was within a point with 9:27 left to play and was only down five points with 6:48 remaining before scoring eight straight points to start a game-clinching 14-1 run.
UConn's Breanna Stewart had a team-high 24 points to go with 12 rebounds, two assists and four steals while Moriah Jefferson chipped in with 14 points, three rebounds and six assists. South Carolina's Alaina Coates, who had 23 points and 13 rebounds, was the only other U.S. player to score in double figures.

Puerto Rico, the defending champions, needed to beat the U.S. to have a chance at qualifying for the semifinals. Aided by former Texas star Carla Cortijo scoring 24 points while former South Florida standout Jazmine Sepulveda and Ali Gibson, a former star at Oregon State for U.S. assistant coach Scott Rueck, were each 3 of 4 from 3-point range. Meriden's Damika Martinez chipped in with seven points and three rebounds.

It will be another busy day of basketball beginning at 1:15 p.m. when the U.S. plays China at 1:15 p.m. in a game that can be seen on FIBA's youtube site.
The U.S. and Cuba will meet in the Pan Am semifinals at 1:30 p.m. with Canada and Brazil playing in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Both of those games can be seen on ESPN3 with the U.S. game likely to be shown on ESPN2 as well.

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