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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Friday, July 24, 2015

UConn's Collier leads U.S. into U19 semifinals

UConn incoming freshman Napheesa Collier had 12 points and five rebounds as the United States defeated Canada 93-45 to advance to the semifinals in the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women.

Louisville's Mariya Moore also had 12 points, South Carolina's A'ja Wilson contributed 11 points and Cal incoming freshman Kristine Anigwe added 10 points.

UConn commit Crystal Dangerfield had nine points, two rebounds, four assists and five steals although she did have two turnovers after failing to turn the ball over in each of the first games of the tournament.

The U.S. will play Spain on Saturday in the semifinals. The U.S. defeated Spain 72-57 in the opening game for both teams in the pool play portion of the tournament.

Here are quotes from Collier, Dangerfield and UConn recruiting target Lauren Cox courtesy of USA Basketball.

We came out really hard in our press and forced some turnovers, so that really helped us get the lead from the beginning.

On the play of Crystal Dangerfield:She’s awesome. I thought she really helped us score more points in transition. She was causing a lot of turnovers and got in their heads. So, she did awesome.

How important is it to have so many players who share the ball and distribute the points like this team does?It’s amazing, because on other teams here, there’s only one or two good players. So, when you’re scouting other teams you only have to shut down one person. But you can’t shut down a whole team. So, I think that it really helps that everyone can score; everyone is so good.

How much fun is it to play with this group of players?
It’s awesome playing with this group of girls. We trained for about two weeks and not all of us knew each other when we came here, but we came together so quickly. I think we’ve grown so close over the past couple of weeks, so I’m glad I’m here with them.

What do you need to tighten up on ahead of the final two games?We need to work on our turnovers. Sometimes we make bad mistakes, so that would be the one area that we need to fix.

On playing Spain for the third time in less than two weeks:It’s really tough to play a team three times in that amount of time. It’s hard to play a team twice, let alone three times. We’re definitely going to have to be on our ‘A’ game.

How were you able to take Canada out of its game?We had a really good start. We really shut them down. We shut their main players down. Everyone did a really good job of playing defense against them, and we shut them down in that first quarter.

On the energy the team brought from the start:It was good to see that we came out with a lot of energy. We haven’t been doing that in the past couple of games. We knew we needed to come out strong, because we beat Canada in Spain (on July 13), so we knew they wanted to get some revenge. It was good seeing us come out with a lot of energy.

You played Spain twice since July 14. How difficult is it to play a team like that three times in less than two weeks?It’s always really hard to beat a team three times, especially a team like Spain. They have some really good players who we have to shut down. They’re going to be out for us because we’ve already beaten them twice. But, if we come out with the same kind of energy that we did tonight, we’ll be good.

How were you able to disrupt Canada from the start of the game?Our starting group did a really good job of working our game plan. Then our bench was able to really keep after it. They had trouble against our press, and the zone was just causing them problems.

Do you feel as if the team is starting to peak at the right time?I do feel that way. We’re starting to click on offense a bit better, and our defense is really starting to disrupt the other teams and our bench is getting stronger. Our rebounding is getting better. We know we really have to start to blocking out and going harder, because the games mean more and the teams are going to be harder, but I think we’re doing a really good job.

Was this a total team effort?Yes. I thought we had a really good team effort tonight. We had balanced scoring; we had balanced rebounding. We were sharing the ball well. Everybody was playing really hard on defense.

What do you expect to see from Spain tomorrow?I’m sure that they’re going to play a little bit harder, because they know that they’ve gotten beat twice and they may have that mindset, like it may be hard to beat a team three times. They’ll be playing with more intensity. I think they’ll be showing confidence, so they may hit a couple more shots. But, I think we’ll be fine. I think we’ll be able to calm them down and keep them under wraps.


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