KAZAN, Russia – The 2013 USA Basketball Women’s World University Games Team (3-0) completed preliminary round play with a perfect record and will advance to the quarterfinals as the top seed from Group B after dispatching Brazil (1-2), 105-75, on Wednesday afternoon at Miras Sports Complex in Kazan, Russia.
Duke University senior Tricia Liston, who is out of River Forest, Ill., registered nine points, three rebounds, two assists and one steal in 16 minutes on Wednesday. In three games of pool play, Liston has averaged 12.0 points and hit 3.7 rebounds. She has hit the second-most three-pointers on the team with six.
Next up for the USA will be a quarterfinal matchup at 10:30 a.m. (times listed are local; Kazan, Russia is +8 hours from EDT) on Friday, July 12, where the team will face the No. 2 from Group A, which will be the loser of tonight’s meeting between Russia (2-0) and Sweden (2-0).
Aaryn Ellenberg (University of Oklahoma/Las Vegas, Nev.) shot 5-of-9 from 3-point range and scored all of her game-high 19 points in the first half, including 14 in the first quarter to lead the U.S. attack. Ellenberg’s five 3-point makes tied Suzie McConnell (1991 versus Ireland) for the most 3-pointers made by a U.S. player at the World University Games. Also etching her name into the record book, Odyssey Sims (Baylor University/Irving, Texas) tied the USA World University Games individual game high with 10 assists, matching the mark previously recorded by Kamie Ethridge in 1985 against Canada.
“We had a great start and a big first quarter,” said USA head coach Sherri Coale (University of Oklahoma). “Every time that we shared the ball, went inside-outside or changed sides of the floor, we got great shots and made most of them. I think the take-away for the team is to understand how shooting percentage is so positively affected by the number of passes you make in a possession.”
The USA scored the first 10 points of the game against Brazil, much like they scored the first eight points against Czech Republic on Tuesday night, and the catalyst, once again, was Ellenberg, who scored 14 first-quarter points after scoring 10 in the opening period against Czech Republic. Ellenberg hit four 3-pointers before checking out for the remainder of the quarter with 3:53 left and the USA ahead 22-5. The U.S. advantage would build to 36-16 at the end of the first quarter.
“She is a volume scorer and when she gets hot, gets in rhythm, has that look in her eye, she can reel off a crazy amount of points in a crazy short amount of time,” said Coale on the guard she also coaches for the Oklahoma Sooners. “That's the kind of thing she is capable of, and it was good to see her do that here, and I think it was good for her teammates to see her do that here.”
The USA built its lead to 56-32 at the halftime break and continued to stretch the margin in the third period. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (University of Connecticut/Anaheim Hills, Calif.) made a 3-pointer assisted by Sims with 4:22 left in the third quarter to put the USA ahead 75-39 and allow Sims to tie the U.S. World University Games single-game assist record. The USA led 82-51 entering the final quarter.
“I'm surrounded by great players,” said Sims of her performance. “We have shooters all around, Kaleena, Aaryn, everybody can hit a shot, Tricia (Liston). That's my job as the point guard. I really don't worry too much about scoring, as long as I can find the open teammate. Coach Coale, she stresses getting out in transition and finding the open shooters, so that's what I did. I was able to push it up, and they were able to finish.”
A jump shot in the paint by Liston with 7:55 left in the fourth quarter gave the USA its largest lead of the game at 37 points (89-52), an amount the USA would reach three more times in the game before ultimately arriving at the final score of 105-75.
Crystal Bradford (Central Michigan University/Detroit, Mich.) scored 12 points, while Jordan Hooper (University of Nebraska/Alliance, Neb.) and Mosqueda-Lewis each added 11 points and ReShanda Gray (University of California/Los Angeles, Calif.) contributed 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting to give the USA five scorers in double-digits. Theresa Plaisance (Louisiana State University/New Orleans, La.) led the USA with seven rebounds.
The USA shot 48.8 percent from the field (41-84 FGs) with 24 of the field goals being assisted. Brazil shot 46.9 percent from the field (30-64 FGs), but turned the ball over 23 times which led to 36 U.S. points coming off turnovers. Mosqueda-Lewis and Sims each had three steals to lead the USA.
In other action today, Czech Republic (2-1) defeated Mali (0-3) 59-44 to finish No. 2 in Group B and also advance to the quarterfinals. Brazil and Mali finished third and fourth, respectively, in the group. The remaining quarterfinal teams will be decided following this evening’s contests, including China (0-2) – Hungary (1-1) and Japan (0-2) – Ukraine (1-1) at 6 p.m.; and at 8:30 p.m. Poland (0-2) – Mongolia (0-2), Taiwan (2-0) – Canada (1-1) and Australia (2-0) – Finland (1-1). The semifinals will be played on July 13, and the finals will be contested on July 15.
“I expect to see a little bit more of an edge,” said Coale on what she expects to be different in the quarterfinal round. “I sure hope our team has a little bit more of an edge, but I expect the opponents will. I expect there will be a few more people in the arena, and it will have a little bit more of a heartbeat to it than today's game did.”
The USA is looking for its third straight gold medal at the World University Games women’s basketball competition, and ninth overall.