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Aug. 1, 2009

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BANGKOK, Thailand – Led by South Carolina freshman Kelsey Bone’s 16 points and a defensive effort that produced 24 turnovers on 19 steals, the 2009 USA U19 World Championship Team (7-1) advanced to the USA’s third consecutive U19 gold medal game after dismantling Canada (4-4) 82-51 in medal semifinal play on Saturday evening in Bangkok, Thailand. In Sunday evening’s gold medal game (7 a.m. EDT), the United States will face undefeated Spain, with the American’s looking to avenge their only loss of the tournament.

Spain beat Argentina (5-3) 67-49 in Saturday’s second semifinal game. Argentina and Canada will square off for the bronze medal.

The USA’s offensive effort was paced by Bone’s 8-of-11 shooting from the field. Nnemkadi Ogwumike added 12 points and Skylar Diggins and Samantha Prahalis each chipped in 11 points as 10 U.S. team members scored.

To say the U.S. dominated the first half would be a vast understatement.

Canada’s Nicole Larke hit a 3-pointer at 9:27 for the game’s first points. However, Canada’s lead was short-lived as the USA kept its neighbors to the north from hitting another field goal for more than 13 minutes.

Ogwumike got a put-back at 9:03 and after Canada missed three attempts, Bone put up her first points to give her side a lead it would never relinquish at 8:23, 4-3. Forcing nine Canadian turnovers in the first period and holding their opponents to a frigid 1-of-12 shooting from the field in the opening stanza, the U.S. strung together a 27-0 scoring spree in just over six minutes and at 2:50 the U.S. was up 27-3. After sending Canada to the line for four tries, the first buzzer sounded with the scoreboard showing a lopsided 27-6 tally.

“We’re down the stretch, we’re close now,” said Bone, who scored eight points on 4-of-5 shooting in the first quarter. “We have one more game and we know what we have to do. For me, it’s about being so close to the gold medal I can taste it. I just wanted to get in there and give it everything I have and do whatever the team needs.”

The second quarter was more of the same as the USA reeled off 12 unanswered points before Canada netted its second field goal of the game at 6:08.

Between its game-opening three and its eighth point of the contest, Canada hit just three free throws in a span of 13:19 and trailed the two-time defending U19 world champion by an insurmountable 31 points, 39-8.

By halftime the lead was 50-18 and Canada never seriously threatened as the U.S. cruised through the second half for the semifinal win.

Destiny Williams checked in for a team-best seven rebounds and had four points, and Shenise Johnson produced a team-high four steals to go with six boards and four points.

Canada’s Kayla Alexander posted team-highs for her squad with 12 points and a game-best nine rebounds.

The U.S. finished the contest with a 39-34 rebounding edge and shot 44.9 percent (25-78 FGs) from the field, while holding Canada to 31.6 percent (18-57 FGs) field goal shooting. However, Canada hit better from 3-point than overall, making 35.3 percent (6-17 3pt FGs) of its 3-point tries.

Of the four teams remaining in the medal hunt, only the United States has climbed the podium at this event. Owning a record three gold medals and one bronze at the FIBA U19 Worlds, the USA has posted a 48-11 all-time record in U19 World Championship play. Spain’s best finish was fourth place in 2007, while Argentina’s top finish was ninth in 1997 and Canada’s best placing at the U19 Worlds was eighth place in 1985.

Story from USA Basketball