July 5, 2007
Moscow, Russia -
Complete Box Score
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Celebrating the Fourth of July in style, the 2007 USA Basketball U21 World Championship Team (5-0) closed out preliminary round play with a 98-57 routing of Japan (1-4) on Wednesday morning at the FIBA U21 World Championship in Moscow. Auburn rising junior DeWanna Bonner saw action in 15 minutes, turning in six points and six rebounds.
Following a day off, the red, white and blue will go up against Belgium (2-3), the fourth placed finisher from Group A on July 6 (time TBA). The semifinals will be held on July 7 and the finals are scheduled for July 8.
"We need to work on our consistency and playing our game," said USA U21 National Team and Duke University head coach Joanne P. McCallie. "We dominated early and then went on vacation. I felt the second half was incredibly dominant and that's what I'm going to remember about this game, the way our team responded to be so dominant in the second half of the game. We did dominate all facets and we should have dominated all facets. It helped us get better and for the next opponent and that's really what it's all about."
The USA jumped out of the gates strong and opened up a 21-7 lead by the 2:28 mark in the first quarter. However, the Americans' shooting went cold and after Japan tipped the ball back in - its only put back of the contest - at the buzzer, the USA's lead was 24-15.
The U.S. defense frustrated their undersized opponents for most of the second quarter, enabling its offense to build up another significant lead. After an Abby Waner (Duke) tip-in at 3:35 the lead was 40-21. However, a defensive lapse over the final three minutes of the half allowed Japan's Naomi Hayashi to swish in three consecutive long-range threes in an 11-2 run and at the midway break the USA's gap had diminished to 42-32.
"We knew we were bigger, better and faster and we knew we needed to show what we can do," said Bonner. "Basically we were focusing so much on their penetration and how quick they were, we forgot all about their threes. It was kind of a shock when she came out and hit the first three and made three in a row, so we had to turn it around at halftime."
The Americans returned to the court determined to make a statement before the medal rounds. With the score still a 10-point difference, 46-36 after two minutes of play, Jolene Anderson (Wisconsin) kicked-off a 10-0 spurt that saw Crystal Langhorne (Maryland) get a pair of buckets off of offensive boards, while Marscilla Packer (Ohio State) fed Laura Harper (Maryland) for an easy layup. Japan immediately called a time out after Harper's bucket in order to regroup. However, McCallie told her troops in the huddle that they need to make a statement now, they can't let Japan back in the game the way they did at the end of the first half.
Japan managed to get off a 3-pointer at 4:38, but the red, white and blue closed out the period on a 14-4 run that saw some great plays. Not only did Waner connect on her second three of the game and tournament, a few of the other highlights included Essence Carson (Rutgers) hitting a jumper, followed by a steal and assist to Anderson, while Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton (Purdue) had a steal that led to a Carson bucket. By the third quarter buzzer, the U.S. was well in control, 70-43, and outscored Japan 28-14 to seal the win.
In dominating Japan on the glass 55-26, including a 20-9 edge on the offensive end, the U.S. scored 10 second chance points. Shooting 52.0 percent from the field, including a red-hot 36.0 percent from beyond the arc, the United States held Japan to a mere 32.8 percent from the floor and just 28.1 percent from 3-point range.
The U.S. also finished the game with the most assists (14), blocked shots (5) and 3-pointers made (9) in its five U21 World Championship games.