July 22, 2015
VIDNOE, Russia – South Carolina forward A’ja Wilson turned in another strong performance at the FIBA U19 World Championships on Wednesday, tallying a team-high 18 points to lead USA Basketball past Argentina, 89-39. With the victory, head coach Dawn Staley and the Americans advanced to Friday’s quarterfinals against Canada.
Wilson boasted one of her best shooting performances of the tournament, as she finished 7-10 from the floor. She converted four of her six free throw attempts and chipped in four assists for the Americans, who never trailed in the game. Wilson enters Friday’s quarterfinal round with tournament averages of 16.8 points and 7.8 rebounds.
The U.S. built a comfortable lead in the early going after starting the game on an 18-2 run. Wilson scored eight points during the run, and her first free throw of the game made it 19-2 with just under four minutes left in the first quarter.
Argentina’s deficit grew to 28 points (40-12) following a jumper by Wilson halfway through the second quarter, and the Gamecock rising sophomore pushed the lead to 48-18 with another free throw late in the period. Wilson finished the first half with 13 points.
“Our starters got us off to a great start on both sides of the ball and then there was a trickle-down effect when people in the game, with the next group keeping up that energy,” Staley said.
The U.S. outscored Argentina, 21-8, in the third quarter to take a 69-26 lead into the final period. Staley’s squad saw its lead continue to grow in the final period, and the Americans closed out the contest by scoring seven of the game’s final 10 points. Wednesday’s victory marked the second straight win by at least 50 points for the U.S.
USA’s defense was the difference on Wednesday, as it held Argentina to under 10 points in two of the game’s four quarters. Wilson finished with a team-high two blocks to go along with three steals, and the U.S. team captain also added four rebounds.
Tip-off for Friday’s quarterfinal game against Canada is set for 1:15 p.m. (ET). The contest can be seen live online HERE.