USF guard Courtney Williams and Team USA beat a difficult Canadian team to win gold at the World University Games. Both undefeated coming into the final, this was a challenging game for the U.S., who couldn’t rely on greater size for the first time in the tournament.
Canada kept it close in the first quarter, tying the game at eleven with a minute left. But American Mercedes Russell (Tennessee) began dominating the paint and building a lead that stayed just out of reach from Canada. Russell had seven points and seven rebounds in the first half, which ended in a 37-35 American lead.
Courtney Williams had a tough first half, missing all eight of her shots. In the third quarter she started connecting, making three of six shots, including a brilliant put-back layup, as well as two free throws. The U.S. clung to a 48-45 lead going into the fourth quarter, having let Canada tie the game only once since the first.
Williams started the fourth quarter making a free throw, scoring a layup on a beautiful ball screen, and knocking down two jumpers from the wing to put the U.S. up 61-49. As usual in this tournament, she improved over the course of the game. Williams led the team in rebounds with ten, and her 15 points all came in the second half. Aerial Powers (Michigan State) led the Americans in scoring with 27 points.
Adut Bulgak (FSU) was Canada’s biggest weapon, always fighting for the ball and making clutch shots. She got into some foul trouble and backed off on defense in the second half, which allowed the U.S. to drive to the basket more successfully. She had an amazing 16 rebounds in this game, as well as 15 points.
Canada started making mistakes in the fourth, while the US started jelling on defense. The lead grew as the U.S. scored 34 points while Canada scored just 18. The final was 82-63. This WUG gold medal is America’s tenth in women’s basketball. After dominating every other opponent, Team USA had to overcome a Japanese team in double overtime to win the semifinal on Saturday.
Spain wins the European Under 20 Championship
Spain, featuring USF guard Laia Flores, defeated France to win the European U20 Championship on Sunday. The game started with some back and forth, but once the Spanish took the lead seven minutes in, they never let go of it. By half time they were up 33-20.
Flores knocked down two consecutive threes at the beginning of the second half to put Spain up 39-24. She also added two more baskets and a free throw to finish the game with eleven points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal. France fought through the entire game, but couldn’t catch up as Spain outshot them 44% to 34%, including six three-pointers to France’s two. The final was 66-47 in Spain’s favor.
The Spanish team, which also includes injured USF forward Ariadna Pujol, didn’t come close to losing in this tournament. They rolled through their nine opponents, winning by an average of 21 points. Spanish point guard Leticia Romero (FSU) won Tournament MVP, averaging 12.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. This gold is Spain’s 44th basketball medal in the last eleven years. This group of Spanish players (born in 1995) is considered the best in Spain’s history, having only lost twice in the last four years and also winning their U16 tournament in 2011 and their U18 tournament in 2013.
Highlights of the win over France can be seen here:
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