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Aug. 9, 2014

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – South Carolina freshman A’ja Wilson put together her most complete game of the tournament to date to lead USA Basketball to a 97-51 win over Argentina in the semifinals of the FIBA Americas U18 Championships at the U.S. Olympic Training Center Saturday night. Just one rebound shy of her second double-double in four games, the Columbia, S.C., native shot 10-of-11 from the field to net 23 points while also blocking four shots to lead head coach Dawn Staley’s team in all three categories.

The U.S. sprinted out of the gate against Argentina, scoring 11 unanswered points after winning the tipoff. Wilson hit the first shot of the game and added another bucket during the opening spurt. After a pair of free throws from Argentina, the Americans went right back to work with a 7-0 run to take an 18-2 lead midway through the opening quarter. Defense and rebounding helped Team USA hold the Argentines to just eight points in the quarter.

Leading 30-8 going into the second quarter, the U.S. did not allow Argentina a basket until the 4:54 mark of the period. By that point, the Americans led 44-9, including 10 points from Wilson during the run. Team USA was on cruise control on its homecourt, taking a 56-16 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Argentina’s offense finally found a rhythm in the third quarter, out-scoring the Americans 23-20 in the period, but the U.S. reasserted itself in the final period. The defensive effort returned, yielding just 12 points in the period to finish with a 46-point win.

In what has become the theme of the tournament, Team USA overpowered its opponent inside, scoring 42 points in the paint and out-rebounding Argentina 53-23. The Americans shot 58.6 percent from the field, highlighted by Wilson’s 10-of-11 accuracy. After Wilson’s 23 points, three other U.S. players turned in 11 points each, all off the bench.

The semifinal win set up a rematch with Canada, which gave the U.S. its sturdiest challenge of the tournament in the final game of group play before the Americans pushed through 107-76 Friday night. Sunday’s championship game is set for 7:30 p.m.