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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

UConn duo goes for another title on Monday

Another championship is within reach for UConn's Moriah Jefferson and Breanna Stewart.

Jefferson and Stewart led to UConn to national titles in each of their first three seasons and also won gold medals at the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship and 2013 FIBA U19 Championship.

However, if not for some late-game brilliance from former UConn recruiting target Linnae Harper, that streak would have come to an end in the Pan Am Games semifinals on Sunday.

Cuba led by 14 points and took a one-point lead after Jefferson lost the ball near midcourt resulting in Ineidis Casanova's layup. Harper, a rising junior guard at Kentucky, hit two free throws with seven seconds left to play and then a steal in the closing seconds as the U.S. held on for a 65-64 victory. The win puts the U.S. in the gold-medal game on Monday at 8:45 p.m. where Jefferson and Stewart will see a familiar face as UConn's Kia Nurse's Canada team rolled past Brazil 91-63 in the other semifinal.

Harper had eight of her team-high 16 points in the fourth quarter and also had four steals.

In an interview with ESPN after the game Stewart said that Harper "won us the game."

Maryland's Shatori Walker-Kimbrough added 15 points, four rebounds and four steals. South Carolina's Alaina Coates added 10 points and 15 rebounds while Jefferson had 12 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals. Stewart finished with 10 points. Down the stretch Stewart was not an offensive factor as she missed her final three shots (all from 3-point range) and did not score in the final 8:53 leading to players like Harper and Coates stepping into the forefront.

Nurse who averaged 8.7 points in Canada's three pool play games, had nine points and three rebounds in the semifinal. Meriden's Damika Martinez is also playing in the Pan Am Games although her Puerto Rico team finished 1-2 in group play and was relegated to playing in the fifth-place game. Playing without leading scorer Carla Cortijo, who was injured late in the loss to the U.S., Puerto Rico lost 77-56 to Argentina to finish sixth. Martinez had nine points and three rebounds in the loss and finished with 25 points and nine rebounds in the four games.

Toronto is not the only location where UConn products are going after a gold medal.

UConn incoming freshman Napheesa Collier had 17 points and six rebounds and UConn commit Crystal Dangerfield had seven points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and had her second straight game without a turnover as the U.S. defeated China 88-62 to improve to 2-0 in pool play at the FIBA U19 Championship for Women in Russia.

South Carolina's A'ja Wilson had 17 points and 10 rebounds, Duke's Azura Stevens added 16 points and Florida State's Shakayla Thomas finished with 11 points, nine rebounds and two steals. The U.S. wraps up group play against winless Egypt on Monday although the U.S. has already clinched the Group B title.

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Anonymous David Kross said...

National teams that play a lot together have an advantage in international play. Pick up teams such as the US are at a disadvantage. The American's up-side is its superior talent. The outcome of this Pan Am game will make few ripples except for the players, who work hard on the court. Either Bre and Mo or Kia will have some zinging rights of course. Just get the UConn girls out of this one in good health, that's my only hope.

10:32 AM 

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