(UNDATED) Bashaara Graves scored 13 points and yanked down eight rebounds, as undefeated USA pummeled Japan, 108-67, to move on to the semifinals of the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women at Klaipeda Arena.
The Americans improved to 7-0 in the tournament with the victory and will face Australia (6-1) at 1:15 p.m. ET on Saturday. The game will be televised live online by ESPN3 at http://es.pn/14gjqz0. Live stats will be available at http://www.fibalivestats.com/matches/13884/08/51/72/57yqlAr5Y4w/.
Also advancing are Spain (7-0), which defeated Canada (3-4) 80-62, and France (6-1), which earned its semifinal berth with a 51-39 win over Brazil (4-3).
The winner will move on to Sunday’s gold medal game, which also will be televised on ESPN3 at 1:15 p.m. ET. The losing team plays for bronze on ESPN3 in the game right before at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Graves, a 6-foot-2 rising rising sophomore at Tennessee, has started all seven games for Katie Meier’s squad and is averaging 8.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest while shooting an astounding 64 percent (25-39) from the field. On Friday, she finished the game six of 11 from the field and one of one from the free throw line. She added two steals and an assist in 19 minutes to go along with her scoring and rebounding totals.
The native of Clarksville, Tenn. (Clarksville H.S.) came out of the gate strong in the first half, recording 11 points on five-of-10 shooting to help the Americans seize a 51-32 lead. She also grabbed six rebounds and added a pair of steals in 14 minutes of action on the court. She helped USA forge a 34-16 advantage on points in the paint, a 33-11 rebounding edge and a 16-0 domination of second chance points during the opening 20 minutes.
“Bashaara Graves started the game with a really tough mentality,” USA head coach Katie Meier said. “At the beginning of the game, Mo Jefferson, Morgan Tuck and Bashaara Graves were just taking care of business. They were very focused, they really wanted to respond.
“And then Stewie (Breanna Stewart) was all over the glass and that got us some options, some run-out opportunities. She’s so versatile with the ball. I felt good about players responding to what we challenged them to do.”
The Americans finished the game by winning the battle of paint points, boards and second-chance buckets, 66-22, 70-32 and 30-2, respectively. That American rebound total set a new USA U19 women’s single-game rebounding record, eclipsing the former record of 68, set twice by the 2007 U.S. squad.
“Our tempo, when we slow down, people are able to be a little more physical with our posts,” Meier said. “But if we keep the ball moving, our posts have some space in there and they’re awfully talented. Obviously they had a great performance inside tonight.”
Graves said the plan going in was to utilize the USA’s height against a smaller Japanese lineup.
“Definitely, we wanted to use our size,” Graves said. “We knew we were bigger than them. We got a lot of offensive rebounds on them, so that was mainly what we did.”
The contest with Australia will be a rematch of a July 13 meeting, which the USA claimed, 71-66, in the Lanzarote International Invitational. That tournament, held in the Canary Islands, featured a three-game exhibition slate in preparation for the FIBA World Championship for Women.
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