U19 team wins Championships

Bratislava, Slovakia - Four Tennessee Lady Vol basketball players exchanged the Orange and White for the Red, White and Blue of USA teams this summer and all mined gold.

Latest to earn the gold are incoming University of Tennessee basketball freshmen, 6'4 post Vicki Baugh and 6'0 guard Angie Bjorklund, who both helped the USA to an 8-0 record on the USA Women's U19 World Championship Team.

On Sunday, the USA defeated Sweden, 99-57, as both players contributed to the victory.

Earlier this summer, rising seniors Alexis Hornbuckle and Nicky Anosike helped to lead the USA to the 2007 Pan American Games gold medal in Brazil.

In the U19 gold medal game, Bjorklund registered 11 points, added one rebound and two assists in 16 minutes of action. Baugh, a starting post, scored five points and claimed nine rebounds to go along with three blocks and a steal in 17 minutes on the hardwood.

"We came ready to play," Baugh said. "We knew it was our last game and that it was for the gold medal. Playing so well makes the gold as sweet as it can get. We've earned it. We really have.

"I'm so proud of everything we've accomplished. It's the most incredible feeling. After what we've been through, it really is the most incredible feeling. I wouldn't have been so proud without all our hard work."

Bjorklund said, "It was definitely sweet beating them how we did. It was so much fun, and it was a great way to end things.

"lt's crazy. After all that we've been through, the hard work, it feels so great. It's been such a fun journey on the way. Looking back it went by so fast."

Bjorklund will use the summer experience to help chart her way through her first collegiate season.

"This was definitely a little intro to college basketball, and I'm a better player because of it," Bjorklund said. "It was a good experience for me."

USA U19 and DePaul head coach Doug Bruno said, "You want every team you coach to peak at the right time, and I think we did that. We really put everything together at medal time. I think for sure that was their best 40 minutes of basketball since we've been together."

In earlier action, Serbia (8-1) held off a late run from Spain (5-4) to earn a 52-50 victory and the bronze medal.

The gold medal was never in question after the USA jumped out to a 21-5 lead just five minutes into the first quarter, including seven points from Monica Wright and Maya Moore both went on to finish with 19 points to lead all scorers.

"I was extremely proud, and energized and excited when we came out so strong," Moore said. "It was just fun to come out so well and get the early lead. To win the way we did tonight was just a real statement for our age group worldwide."

This age group, comprised of players born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, improves to 13-0 in FIBA aged-based competition, with the USA having won gold with a 4-0 slate at the 2006 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The USA's 33-16 first-quarter lead stretched to 55-33 at halftime, remained at 22 points, 72-50, after three quarters, and the USA outscored Sweden 27-7 in the fourth period to bring the final score to 99-57.

"We weren't going to let it be close," said Jasmine Thomas. "We went out and played our game the way we knew we could play. We put it to them early and then kept pounding all 40 minutes."

Moore also contributed 13 rebounds, six assists and three steals; Jantel Lavender added 15 points and 10 rebounds; Jasmine Thomas scored 13 points and grabbed four rebounds; Angie Bjorklund tallied 11 points, including 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point; and Vicki Baugh contributed nine rebounds and three blocked shots.

Sweden was led by eight points from the 2007 U19 World Championship for Women MVP, Frida Eldebrink, and eight points from Elin Eldebrink.

The USA was also helped by a huge 68-40 advantage on the boards, including 26 offensive rebounds.

"I'm very honored to have coached this team, and I'm honored to have represented USA Basketball," Bruno said. "The players were just a treat to be around. They were just great people. We worked them hard. They were a fun loving bunch, and they worked hard."

Bruno was assisted on the sidelines by Cynthia Cooper-Dyke of Prairie View A&M University and Carol Owens of Northern Illinois.

Inside Tennessee Top Stories