SIBENIK, Croatia Senior Nicole Ohlde and junior Kendra Wecker helped the U.S. team capture the gold medal at the FIBA World Championship for Young Women with a 71-55 victory over Brazil on Sunday evening.
LSUs Seimone Augustus was named the most valuable player of the tournament after pacing the U.S. to the gold medal with 18 points, while Dukes Alana Beard and Georgias Christi Thomas were named to the All-FIBA World Championship for Young Women Team. Frances Celine Dumerc and Brazils Erika de Souza rounded out the five-member squad.
Augustus led four players in double figures with 18 points, while Arizonas Shawntinice Polk and Thomas added 14 and 13 points, respectively. Thomas paced the team with eight rebounds and Beard collected six to go with 12 points. Ohlde scored just six points on 2-of-5 shooting, but did tally team-bests in steals (three) and assists (two) to go with three rebounds in 23 minutes. Wecker scored two points on 1-of-3 shooting in four minutes of action.
The win avenged the U.S.s only loss in the tournament, a 73-60 setback to Brazil on July 27 in preliminary play. In the bronze medal game, France took off in the fourth quarter and surpassed host Croatia, 80-66.
Its hard to explain what this thing is sometimes, said USA head coach Jim Foster. Its a month of preparations and Ive done it often enough to know that if you have a quality group, you have a chance to get a gold medal. They had great character and (Seimone) Augustus and (Christi) Thomas stepped us today.
The U.S. connected on nearly 50 percent of its shots, connecting on 31-of-63 field goals, and out-rebounded Brazil by a margin of 34-28. The Americans continued their stellar defensive play, as they held the Brazilians to just 30.2 percent shooting from the field, while forcing 15 turnovers.
The first quarter was a tight affair that saw the score knotted thrice and the lead change hands five times. With score knotted at 18-all, Wecker hit a floating jumper and Thomas made a pair of free throws, as the U.S. finished the first 10 minutes with a 22-18 lead, on that it would never relinquish.
Thomas kicked off the second quarter with a put-back at and after of play the U.S. was still in front by four, 26-22. Behind four points from Augustus, the U.S. scored nine straight points, jumping out to a 35-22 lead with remaining in the half. The American pushed the advantage to 44-30 as the teams broke for halftime.
Polk scored a pair of lay-ups in a 6-1 run to start the third quarter to give the U.S. its largest lead, 50-31, at the mark. However, Brazil refused to go away and zoomed back with the help of a 16-4 run. With remaining in the third, the U.S. advantage had dwindled to just 55-47. Augustus nailed a three-pointer and Brazil and the U.S. each made a field goal to end the quarter with the Americans on top, 59-49.
Great defense on both ends kept the fourth quarter scoreless until Brazil connected on two free throws at the mark. Rutgers Cappie Pondexter ended the U.S. drought with a 19-footer at to push the score to 61-51. The Americans got scoring from four different players during a 10-4 run, as they finished off the Brazilians for a 71-55 victory.
For the tournament, Ohlde averaged 7.8 points per game on 38.9 percent shooting with 5.6 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.1 assists per game. She was first on the team in free throws (20), free throws attempted (29) and offensive rebounds (23), while she was second in total rebounds (45) and assists (nine). Ohlde started all eight games for Team USA and was one of three players to average over 20 minutes per game (along with Alana Beard and Seimone Augustus). Wecker, who managed just 10.6 minutes per game, averaged 4.6 points and 2.1 rebounds per game. She was fourth on the team and second among reserves with 12 steals.