Playing in front of a packed house in its opponent’s home country, the United States won its sixth consecutive FIBA U19 Women’s world Championship gold medal with a 78-70 victory against Russia in Chekhov.
The Americans finished the tournament with a 7-0 record and Team USA won a record seventh title overall in the event.
South Carolina forward A’Ja Wilson was named tournament MVP and set a USA U19 single-game record with 30 points. She averaged 18.3 points per game in the tournament.
Napheesa Collier, the American Family Insurance ALL-USA first-teamer from Incarnate Wood in St. Louis, was named to the all-tournament team. She had 10 points, 10 rebounds and six steals in the gold medal game.
“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,” said USA U19 coach Dawn Staley. “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.”
Staley, the former star point guard for Team USA and current South Carolina coach, is 21-0 as a head coach for Team USA.
Duke’s Azura Stevens had 18 points and six rebounds and Illinois’ Chatrice White scored nine of her 10 points in the second half and had five rebounds.
“It feels amazing,” said Collier. “All the hard work that we all put in showed tonight. It paid off.”
“This is going to help me a lot, because it has showed me how to play with college players and against them. So, it gives me a little bit of extra experience.”
The U.S. team trailed 19-18 after one quarter and used a 9-0 run to close out the second quarter and take a 39-34 halftime lead.
White’s banked three at the third quarter buzzer put the U.S. ahead 57-53. The game remained tight with Russia cutting the lead to 68-65 with 4:21 remaining.
A drive by White sparked a 7-0 run and the U.S. lead bulged to 10 in the final minutes. Russia scored the next five points but Collier scored and Russia was unable to counter.
“I don’t ever like to have things handed to us, so being able to go out and beat Russia on their home court and then to have to earn it, because it was a hard-fought game, made it even better,” said Blackman (Tenn.) guard Crystal Dangerfield.