Liston, USA claim gold at World University Games
Behind an outstanding defensive performance, the USA Basketball Women’s Team (6-0), which includes Duke senior Tricia Liston, never trailed and kept Russia at a distance for most of the second half on its way to claiming the gold medal in the World University Games with a 90-71 victory on Monday night.
The USA (6-0) has won three consecutive gold medals and nine overall at the World University Games.
Liston, a native of River Forest, Ill., saw only six minutes of action but scored two points and had three rebounds. The 6-1 guard finished the World University Games averaging 8.2 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists.
She tied for the team high with nine 3-pointers made, which tied for fourth in the Games, and hit a team-high 42.9 percent from outside the arc.
“It is awesome,” Liston said of winning the gold medal. “There are no words really to describe it, especially having my parents here with me. To meet all these girls, being able to put a team together so fast and do something so special and represent our country; it is an awesome feeling to have.”
Bria Hartley (UConn) led the charge for the USA, scoring a game-high 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field including 2-of-3 on 3-point attempts. Crystal Bradford (Central Michigan) and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (UConn) added 16 and 15 points, respectively, while World University Games Co-MVP Odyssey Sims (Baylor) contributed 10 points and three assists.
Sims, who averaged 12.7 points per game and a competition-best 5.3 assists per game, shared MVP honors with Russia’s Tatiana Grigoryeva.
The USA limited Russia to just 41.6 percent shooting (27-65 FGs) and 31.4 percent in the first half (11-35 FGs), and forced 20 turnovers, which led to 27 U.S. points.
“We had a defensive game plan that our kids executed beautifully,” said USA coach Sherri Coale, who guides the University of Oklahoma. “They did a tremendous job defensively against a team that is very hard to guard.”
Getting off to a quick start, the USA built a 13-3 lead with just under four minutes left in the first quarter after a Jordan Hooper (Nebraska) jump shot. Making her first start of the competition, Hooper played a critical role in the USA building an early lead, as she scored seven points and reeled in four rebounds in the opening quarter.
Russia tightened the score to 19-13 before Mosqueda-Lewis hit a 3-pointer to end the scoring in the first period with the USA ahead 22-13.
Russia started the second quarter strongly, going on an 8-3 run that prompted Coale to call a timeout with 7:46 remaining and the USA lead cut to 25-21.
Mosqueda-Lewis nailed another 3-pointer to stop the run, and the USA outscored Russia 16-6 over the remainder of the half, including eight points and two 3-pointers from Bradford.
“I’m coming off the bench to bring a spark and intensity into the game, and that’s what I knew I had to do,” Bradford said of her contributions to the USA’s 41-27 halftime lead. “I’m just happy that I could do that for my team.”
Despite falling behind by as many as 15 points after halftime, Russia began to build some momentum midway through the third quarter and scored four straight points to cut the U.S. lead to 50-42 with 5:14 left in the period.
Hartley immediately answered, however, hitting a 3-pointer assisted by Ariel Massengale (Tennessee) 10 seconds later to put the USA back up 11 points. Russia would not bring its deficit to single digits again.
“It’s an unexplainable feeling,” Bradford said about how she felt when the final horn sounded. “I wouldn’t want to have it with anyone but these 11 girls. I think everybody on this team deserved it. We all worked hard. The best feeling is it wasn’t given to us. We worked for it, so to say we deserved it is huge.”
With 32 assists for the competition, Sims broke the previous assist mark by a U.S. player at the World University Games of 30 held by Kamie Ethridge (1985) and Suzie McConnell (1987).
Since 1973, the first year the USA women competed in the WUGs, the United States has compiled a 101-15 record.