U19 team crushes South Korea

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – The USA Women's U19 World Championship Team opened second round play in the 2007 World Championships today recording a 113-69 win over South Korea, the third-place finisher from Group A in preliminary play.

Incoming University of Tennessee basketball freshmen, 6'4 post Vicki Baugh and 6'0 guard Angie Bjorklund, each tossed in 10 points in the victory.

Bjorklund added one rebound and one assist in 18 minutes of action. Baugh, a starting post, claimed six rebounds, blocked two shots and dished out an assist in 14 minutes on the hardwood.

On Tuesday, the USA will face Spain (finished second in Group A) and conclude second round play against the Slovak Republic (Group A first place finisher) on Aug. 1. The teams will have an off day on Aug. 2 prior to the medals round.

After Monday's game, the future Lady Vols offered their comments.

"I felt like we came out strong tonight, but not really defensively," Baugh said. "I just think our heads weren't where they needed to be on defense. I don't think we expected them to be that fast. They gave us a little bit of a surprise. Playing defense against them was different than all the other teams we've faced.

"I think we executed about half the game. We let them score a lot on the free throw line and gave them a lot of free points. We haven't played a team that fast yet, and it was a challenge to adjust. We have to work on fouling against quick teams like that."

The USA had eight players in double figures.

"I think we have the chemistry now as a team that we know everyone's style of play," Baugh said. "I think that's why everyone is able to score, because we are all comfortable on the court with our roles and each other."

In looking ahead to the game with Spain, Baugh said, "I'm definitely pumped up ... . We want them back. The first time we played them in the exhibition tournament in the Canary Islands, their best player didn't play, the officials had an impact on the game and they have brought new players with them for this tournament. I feel like we have a wakeup call to give them."

Bjorklund was one of the eight players in double figures. "I feel like my shot was dropping a little better this game," Bjorklund said. "As I start getting my shots from the flow of the offense more and more, I think they'll drop even more. And when I did get it from an assists or through the flow of the offense, I felt more confident too.

"I think there is a sense of urgency in the second round, from all the teams and coaches as well. We're getting closer and closer to the end."

As far as the next matchup, Bjorklund said, "Spain has their best player back, and we are a whole new team, so I'm excited to see what happens."

USA Coach Doug Bruno said, "This team has been very effective about coming out ready to play, there's no question about that. I thought we were sharing the ball pretty well tonight. We are a very talented and deep basketball team, so it doesn't surprise me that we have eight people in double figures. And I bet you there are a couple players that missed easy buckets, and we could have had 10 players in double figures.

"When you have so many weapons and the players share the ball, that's what makes this a beautiful game to watch."

The USA blew open the game just five minutes into the first period when, with the score at 11-7, a Baugh block on the defensive end was converted into an easy two points for Maya Moore on a fast-break bucket.

On the next possession, Moore dished the ball to Jantel Lavender for two of her 16 points, and the red, white and blue embarked on a 22-6 run to close the quarter. The score was 33-13 headed into the second period, with eight U.S. players already on the board.

"I think we came out with good intensity," Monica Wright said. "South Korea did exactly what we expected, so we had to concentrate on our game and execute the scouting report. Maintaining our lead throughout four quarters was a tougher challenge the securing the early lead."

Despite a continual fight and nine 3-pointers from South Korea, the U.S. lead continued to stretch with each quarter, 27 points at halftime, 32 points after three and 34 points with the 113-69 final, and South Korea never threatened a comeback.

"We had the chance to break some full-court pressure tonight," Moore said. "They pressed us, and not many teams have done that. It was a confidence builder to handle a different style of game than we have been playing."

The USA dished 18 assists, including six from Italee Lucas, while outrebounding its opponent 67-25 and shooting 56.6 percent from the field.

"We trust our teammates, and when everyone knocks shots down, it makes that trust even stronger," said Jasmine Thomas. "You know you can give it to anybody and they are going to make a good decision with the ball."

Melissa Lechlitner sank 10-0f-10 free throws to finish with 14 points; Krystal Thomas recorded her third double-double in four games with 13 points and 13 rebounds; Moore added 12 points and seven rebounds; Wright scored 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting; and Jasmine Thomas, Bjorklund and Baugh contributed 10 points. Lavender also added nine rebounds.

Continuing second-round action, the USA is set to play Spain (3-1), which finished second in Group A, at 8:15 p.m. on July 31, and the first place squad from Group A, Slovakia (4-0), at 6:00 p.m. on Aug. 1. All time listed are local, Central European Time, which is +6 hours from Eastern Daylight Time.

The USA previously beat Spain 79-70 earlier this month in an pre-World Championship exhibition tournament in Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands. Spain was, however, without three of their current players.

"We know Spain is going to come out ready to play," Moore said. "I think they think they should have beaten us the first time we played in exhibition, and now they've picked up a couple more players and have one of their starters back. They're going to screen a lot and push the ball. It's going to be one of the toughest games yet for us."

The 2007 U19 World Championship quarterfinals are slated for Aug. 3; semifinals will be held Aug. 4 and the gold medal will be contested Aug. 5.

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