U19 team secures semifinal spot

Bratislava, Slovakia - Twenty-five points from Jantel Lavender, 13 from Maya Moore and a 12-point, 11-rebound outing from Allyssa DeHaan led the USA U19 Women (7-0) past Czech Republic (3-4) 85-66 and into the World Championship semifinals Friday.

Incoming Lady Vol rookie Vicki Baugh stepped up on the defensive end by pulling down eight rebounds (seven defensive) and scoring three points in 13 minutes as a starter. Fellow Tennessee newcomer Angie Bjorklund played 15 minutes off the bench with four points, a steal, an assist and one rebound.

Through seven games in the tournament, Baugh, who has made six starts, is averaging 5.6 points per game and 5.9 rebounds per game while shooting 64.3 percent (18-of-28) from the field.

Bjorklund, who is averaging 17 minutes per game, is contributing 7.0 points and 2.0 rebounds off the bench while making a team-high nine 3-pointers to go along with a 47.4 field goal percentage (18-of-38).

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

"We didn't ever panic today even when we were down after the first quarter," Baugh said. "We used our strong points, which are rebounding and our inside scoring."

Baugh said the team wants to win the championship.

"I'm excited," she said. "I can tell how bad everyone on this team wants to be there, and I can't wait to get out on the floor. The rest of the way is going to be tough, and we are going to have to be mentally prepared."

Angie Bjorklund said, "We knew Czech Republic was a a good team, and I think that helped us come into the game ready to play. We never underestimated how good they can be. It's tough to put 40 minutes of good basketball together, but there were little pieces tonight when we played really well.

"We have just two more games together, and we are all really excited about reaching the semifinals. Everyone is just so excited to be here."

USA U19 and DePaul head coach Doug Bruno said, "When we understand tempo, like we did at times tonight, we are a very good basketball team, and we defended extremely well today. Allyssa DeHaan was an unbelievable force off the bench. She was really a big-time difference maker.

"This was the first game we have been able to play Allyssa and Jantel together, and it was very effective today. And you can't say enough about Maya's ability to lock up the opposing team's best player."

The USA and Czech Republic traded scores during the first period, including four lead changes, and after a 3-pointer from Czech's Kamila Stepanova with just 30 seconds on the clock, the USA trailed by two, 23-21, headed into the second period.

The red, white and blue, however, responded with a 15-4 run to open the second period that Lavender kicked off with a bucket in the paint at 9:38 and Krystal Thomas capped with two of her own at 5:34 to bring the U.S. advantage to nine, 36-27. Czech Republic answered with a 10-6 run to close the period, but the USA lead 42-37 at halftime.

"We weren't really satisfied with the first half, and we kind of had our heads down a little," Moore said. "But the coaches reminded us we had won the first half and told us to cut down the turnovers and continue to play tough defense. In the second half, we came out with more energy, and we knew the game was ours to take."

Another U.S. run, this time a 15-6 advantage that included six points from Moore and five from Jasmine Thomas, opened the third period to bring the U.S. lead to 57-43 with 3:40 on the clock, and the game's result never again was in question.

Lavender also collected nine rebounds; while Jasmine Thomas added 11 points, six rebounds and four assists; Krystal Thomas contributed six points and nine rebounds; Vicki Baugh grabbed eight boards; Monica Wright scored seven points; and DeHaan added five blocked shots.

"My role on this team is to rebound and block shots, and I was on defensively tonight," DeHaan said. "My goal was to not let anybody in the paint. With defense comes offense, and it just kind of flowed tonight. My teammates found me when I was open."

Czech Republic was led by 18 points from Katerina Elhotova Elhotova and 10 points from both Romana Hejdova and Lenka Sipova.

Next up for the USA is a semifinal matchup with Spain (5-2) on Saturday, Aug. 2, at 8:15 p.m., local time, which is +6 hours from Eastern Daylight Time. The USA has twice beaten Spain in the past two weeks: 74-66 on July 31 in second-round action of the U19 World Championship and 79-71 in exhibition play in the Canary Islands on July 21.

"We have been focused this entire tournament," Jasmine Thomas said. "We are all really excited to get to the semifinals, but we are still just trying to win one game at a time. Spain is always going to be a tough matchup, and this will be our third meeting. Everyone is going to come to play because it's a get-to-the-gold game."

The winner of USA vs. Spain will advance to the gold medal game, which will be contested Aug. 5.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories