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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

UConn's Collier helps U.S. win FIBA U19 gold

Playing on a team with six college players, UConn incoming freshman Napheesa Collier was the U.S. star who led the gold medalists in rebounds, steals and minutes played as the U.S. won the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women for the sixth straight time.

While Collier did not have an eye opening of a stat line as she did in Saturday's semifinals, the 6-foot-1 forward had 10 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and six steals in a 78-70 win over host Russia in Sunday's championship game.

Collier had three double-doubles in seven games including ones in both the semifinals and final.

Collier's average of 9.3 rebounds per game not only led the team but was the third highest total for a U.S. player in the tournament as Alisha Jones pulled down 10.8 rebounds per game in the inaugural event in 1985, and current WNBA all-star Nneka Ogwumike averaged 9.9 rebounds per contest in the 2009 tournament.

Collier is the 13th current or future UConn player to represent the U.S. at the U19 tournament but the only ones to average more than 13.2 that Collier were eventual college national players of the year Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore and Breanna Stewart.
"This is going to help me a lot, because it has showed me how to play with college players and against them," Collier said. "It gives me a little bit of extra experience."
Collier earned a spot on the five-member all-tournament team alongside of tournament MVP A'ja Wilson, a former UConn recruiting target who is going into her sophomore season at South Carolina.

The U.S. relied on its dominant frontcourt to win its sixth straight title as Wilson had 30 points amd eight rebounds, Duke's Azura Stevens had 18 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals and Illinois' Chatrice White came off the bench to add 10 points and five rebounds in addition to Collier's contributions.

"I had a great opportunity to work with A’ja and Napheesa last summer, so I think they were familiar with our style of play and how we like to play," U.S. and South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said. "It was great to have their veteran leadership coming into a tournament like this and also playing well throughout, just setting the tone and setting the example of how we need to play and how we need to approach it to win in a tight situation like tonight in the gold medal game."
UConn commit Crystal Dangerfield finished with four points and five assists and she played most of the fourth quarter ahead of older guards on the roster.

Collier led the U.S. team in rebounding with 65 in the seven games, steals (17) and minutes played  (24.1 per game). She was also seventh in the tournament in rebounding  while Dangerfield had a remarkable 19/4 assist/turnover ratio (the best of any player in the tournament), was second on the team with 14 steals and averaged 7.5 points per game. UConn recruiting target Lauren Cox led all U.S. players with an average of 18.3 rebounds per 40 minutes.

One of the more impressive aspects of the run to the gold medal is that eight U.S. players averaged at least 10 points per game in last year's FIBA U17 World Championship for Women and FIBA Americas U18 Championship and the only ones to play in the tournament were Wilson and Collier.

Speaking of UConn, the Register has put together a slideshow of photos from yesterday's WNBA All-Star Game with the work of the Associated Press/ Jessica Hill featuring plenty of shots of former Huskies.

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