U19 team moves to quarterfinals

Bratislava, Slovakia - The USA Women's U19 World Championship Team will advance to quarterfinal play with a perfect 6-0 record after securing an 84-60 win over Slovakia Wednesday evening.

Incoming Tennessee Lady Vol Angie Bjorklund stepped up in a big way as one of three players in double digits with 11 points in 25 minutes.

Bjorklund made four field goals, including 3-of-6 3-pointers with two of those spurring a 22-10 run. She added three assists and one rebound.

Fellow incoming Lady Vol rookie Vicki Baugh added three rebounds to go with two points and a blocked shot.

After the game, the future Lady Vols had this to say:

"I knew we had the game under control from the beginning," Baugh said. "They were a slower team, and we were able to control the pace of the game."

Baugh said the USA team had had to adjust to physical play.

"We are definitely overcoming some adversity on the defensive end," she said. "We are not getting any calls. Other teams can foul us in a way that we can't foul them. It's an adjustment, but we are getting over it."

The key for the team is to play its game, she said.

"I think we are ready to face whatever team comes our way," Baugh said. "I just think we can't play down to other team's levels. It's all up to us. Individually, we all need to come into every game focused."

Bjorklund said, "I think we came out and took care of business. Our energy was up, and we played as a team. We are a deep bench and our players coming of the bench and our starters all played with more intensity and focus tonight."

Bjorklund likes being undefeated to this point in the championships.

"Being 6-0 has definetely put us in a great position because coming in we get to play the number four seed," she said. "I think we are ready. Every single game we work towards tougher competition, and every second we are on the floor, despite what the score is, it's always a 0-0 game."

USA U19 and DePaul head coach Doug Bruno said, "I thought tonight we were a lot better than we have been at understanding tempo. We ran we needed to run, and we executed our half-court offense when we needed to."

Slovakia was able to match each U.S. score for the first six minutes of the game, thanks to 11 first-quarter points from Regina Palusna, and the score was an even 13-13 just six minutes into the game. But a jumper from Italee Lucas at 4:16 sparked a 12-4 run that concluded when Lucas nailed a buzzer-beater from midcourt to close the first period with the USA up 25-17.

"I think tonight's game was much easier to win because we were sharing the ball," Lucas said. "And our defense was more intense because we felt like we had something to prove."

Jantel Lavender scored the first two points of the second quarter, but Slovakia responded with seven straight points, including five from Lucia Krc-Turbova, to cut the lead to 27-24 at 8:45. That was as close as the host team would ever get, and from there it was all USA.

Another basket from Lavender at 8:05 launched a 22-10 U.S. run that included six points from Maya Moore and two 3-pointers from Bjorklund, and the USA headed into the locker room at halftime with a 15-point lead at 49-34.

"Tonight was a huge test for us, playing against the home team in front of the home crowd," Lavender said. "I think we handled it well. At halftime when we had a 15-point lead, I knew we had the game under control and all we had to do was sustain it. We just played defense, and we kept our lead."

The USA went on to outscore Slovakia 22-20 in the third period and then 13-6 in the fourth to bring the score to the final 86-60.

In addition to Moore's 24 points and six rebounds and Lavender's 14 points and 11 rebounds, Bjorklund scored 11 points; Krystal Thomas added eight points and seven rebounds; Melissa Lechlitner added eight points and five assists to four steals and four rebounds; and Lucas contributed seven points.

"Being forced to sit yesterday because of foul trouble was definitely motivation for me to come out tonight and stay out of foul trouble, so I could stay in the game," Moore said. "I'm proud of the team for tonight's win. We are learning to control the tempo better."

Slovakia's Palusna finished with 21 points and Krc-Turbova scored 12.

FIBA is expected to confirm game times on Thursday, but the No. 1 seed USA is set to face No. 4 Czech Republic on Friday in the tournament quarterfinals.

"It's nice to be 6-0, but 6-0 is really meaningless in the broader picture of what we came here to do, which is win gold," Bruno said. "All of our focus is on the Czech Republic right now."

The 2007 U19 World Championship semifinals will be played Aug. 4 and the gold medal will be contested Aug. 5.


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