July 25, 2015
CHEKHOV, Russia – South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley and forward A’ja Wilson will play for a world championship on Sunday. The pair of Gamecocks helped lead USA basketball to an 80-65 victory over Spain in the FIBA U19 semifinals on Saturday, as the Americans advanced to face Russia in the gold medal game.
“I was really proud of this team tonight,” USA head coach Staley said. “We needed a game like this. Our starters did a great job, and it forced us to come together as a cohesive group when we needed to.
Wilson stuffed the stat sheet for the U.S., finishing with her third double-double (20 points, 16 rebounds) of the tournament. She totaled 12 first half rebounds to go along with eight points, and the U.S. team captain also chipped in three steals and three assists. Wilson has averaged 16.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game for Staley’s squad.
The Americans jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead before back-to-back field goals from Wilson pushed the advantage to 10-2. Her third field goal of the game made it 14-7, and the U.S. took a slight 21-19 lead into the second quarter.
USA’s lead grew to double-digits (31-21) following a 10-2 run to start the second period. Wilson capped off the run with another first half field goal, and the South Carolina standout collected her 10th rebound of the game after grabbing an offensive board with less than three minutes left in the quarter. The U.S. led, 44-31, at the break.
Four straight points by Spain to start the third quarter cut the USA lead to single-digits (44-35) before Wilson connected on a pair of free throws to make it 46-35. She finished the day 4-6 from the line.
The Americans closed the third quarter on an 8-2 run to take a 62-50 lead into the final period. Another jumper from Wilson made it 64-52 early in the fourth quarter, and the U.S.’s advantage grew to 16 (70-54) after a field goal by small forward Napheesa Collier, who finished with a game-high 24 points.
USA outscored Spain, 18-15, in the fourth quarter, as it maintained control the rest of the way. The U.S. caused 18 turnovers and outrebounded the Spaniards, 58-36, for the game.