USA Women Cruises Against Sweden to Earn Spot in Gold Medal Match
Written By Colin Whited
In arguably the marquee matchup of the women’s Under-21 World Championships in Lublin, Poland thus far, the United States faced off against international rival Sweden. At the end of the day, the U.S. featured a lineup with too much athleticism, speed, and talent for the opposing Swedes, as they took an early lead and cruised to a 74-27 victory.
The key for the Americans was a stifling defense, in which they used to gain a 26-4 advantage at the end of the opening period. Overall, the U.S. would force 30 turnovers and out-rebound Sweden 44-26.
“We knew coming into today’s game that Sweden relied on their transition offense to score points,” forward Andrea Amati (Frederick, Md.) explained afterwards. “They don’t have a strong half-court offense, so when we minimized their transition opportunities, it became difficult for them to put points on the board.”
Forward Easter Faafiti (Pittsburgh, Calif.) once again proved to be a force in the paint, accumulating 19 points on 8/12 shooting to lead all scorers. She also dished out four assists to lead the U.S.
“Whenever you have someone as good as Easter in the paint, a team becomes much more dynamic,” said guard Ann Whited (Fishers, Ind.). “Her presence alone creates opportunities for everyone else.”
Britny Latham (Cleveland, Tenn.) scored 12 points and Whited added 10 to pace the offensive output for the Americans. Zamica Gage also had a solid all-around game, chipping in 9 points to go along with 7 rebounds, 3 steals, and 3 assists.
The last time the U.S. women squared off against Sweden was 10 months ago in the Deaflympic finals in Taipei, Taiwan. The game was one for the ages, as the U.S. women suffered their first ever loss on the international stage, settling for silver as Sweden took gold. Today, the Americans used the loss as motivation.
“I was there when Sweden defeated the U.S. [in Taipei],” said Shaquana McDonough (Pembroke, Mass.), who scored six points and had six rebounds. “We definitely used that game as fuel for today’s matchup.”
The U.S. will play Lithuania for the gold medal tomorrow. Five days ago, the U.S. defeated the Lithuanians 76-39 in preliminary play.
Despite routing Lithuania earlier in the competition, U.S. head coach Debby Ayres hasn’t claimed the gold medal just yet.
“We have to play better than we did today if we want to beat Lithuania,” she said.
USA – Faafiti 19, Latham 12, Whited 10, Gage 9, Tucker 7, McDonough 6, Lewis 5, Smith 4, Brinkley 2, Amati 0, Peterson 0, Kang DNP.
Sweden – F. Tebibel 9, Linevall 6, Worsek 6, Lamhauge 3, J. Ouahid 3, Borgman 0, Hansen 0, Lorentzon 0, Nilsson 0, A. Ouahid 0, L. Tebibel 0.