UDINE, Italy (July 30, 2017) – Texas A&M incoming freshman Chennedy Carter (Mansfield, Texas) set a USA U19 single-game record with 31 points, but it was not enough, as the 2017 USA Women's U19 World Cup Team (6-1) claimed the silver medal at the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup after losing a hard-fought, gold-medal game 86-82 to undefeated Russia (7-0) on Sunday night in Udine, Italy.
Carter scored her record 31 points by shooting 11-of-18 from the field and 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. The previous record was 30 points, set by A'ja Wilson in the 2015 FIBA U19 World Cup gold medal game against Russia.
"It really doesn't mean anything to me," said Carter when she found out about setting the USA scoring record. "Thirty-one points and a loss is really not important to me. I'm glad, and that's a big deal, but I'd rather have 31 and that gold medal around my neck."
Carter and Tyasha Harris (South Carolina/Noblesville, Ind.) were named to the five-member all-tournament team, along with Russia's Musina and Vadeeva and Canada's Laeticia Amihere. Carter averaged a team-leading 15.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists in seven games at the FIBA U19 World Cup.
Including its 6-1 record in 2017, USA women's teams are now 79-13 all-time in FIBA U19/Junior World Cups and have captured seven gold medals, one silver medal and one bronze medal. Canada (6-1) earned the bronze medal, its first of any kind in the history of the event, with a 67-60 victory over Japan (5-2).
Bella Alarie (Princeton/Bethesda, Md.) grabbed 12 rebounds and Harris had nine assists, it was not enough to overcome Russia, which got 33 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists from forward Raisa Musina and 26 points and 18 rebounds from center and tournament MVP Maria Vadeeva.
Crystal Dangerfield (Connecticut/Murfreesboro, Tenn.) added 15 points, and Alecia Sutton (Texas/St. Louis, Mo.) contributed 11 points.
"It was just a great game," said USA U19 and University of Pittsburgh head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio. "Russia is really good. They are very talented. They have two great players that made play after play. We tried a number of different things. We played hard. I give our players credit - they played their hearts out. I'm proud of their effort. They never quit."
The game featured 24 lead changes, and the USA's largest lead was only eight points, while Russia's largest lead was six points.
"It was a game of runs. Russia made a run, and we seemed to answer," said McConnell-Serio. "We gave ourselves a chance down the stretch, and we just couldn't convert. It's disappointing. We came here to win the gold. We just missed some layups and free throws that could have been the difference in the game. I'm just proud of the way our players continued to fight the entire game."
It was a quick start for the USA, which went up 9-2 early in the contest and was up by eight, 18-10, after a Harris steal and layup. However, as was the case all game, any time one team started to pull away, the other team responded, and Russia began reeling the score back to close the first quarter with the USA up 22-17.
After three quick scores to open the second period, Russia gained its first edge of the night, 23-22. From there, the score see-sawed and with 2:18 left in the half, Russia regained the lead, 36-34.
Carter, with five points, and Dangerfield, with an and-one, closed out the first half on an 8-0 run, and the red, white and blue headed into the locker room owning a 42-36 margin.
"I thought, in the first half, we were hitting our shots, we were executing and scoring and defending," added McConnell-Serio. "Then, we got in some foul trouble with Ruthy (Hebard), and I think that hurt us, because she has been so solid at both ends of the floor for us throughout this tournament."
Raisa and Vadeeva, both of whom have competed professionally in Europe for the past three seasons and were on the losing end of an equally hard-fought U19 gold medal game against the USA in 2015, combined to score 22 points as Russia outscored the U.S. 26-18 in the third quarter for a 62-60 edge with 10 minutes to play.
"They are great players," said Harris of Russia's top two players. "They took advantage of how we played. They took it to us. We tried to stop them, but they are at a different level being pros than us collegians. We just tried our best with them."
The lead changed sides six times in the fourth quarter, with the USA's final edge coming on a Ruthy Hebard (Oregon/Fairbanks, Alaska) drive to the basket that gave her team a 75-74 lead with 3:23 to play.
"Every time we would get a lead, they would find a way to answer it and go on a run of their own," said Dangerfield, who won a gold medal at the 2015 U19 World Cup. "They played until the last buzzer went off. It was kind of like 2015, just going back and forth, but it was just a different outcome."
Down the stretch it was Russia's turn for the run, and the Europeans shot 3-of-5 from the floor, forced two turnovers by the Americans and hit 6-of-9 from the line as it outscored the U.S. 12-7 over the final 3:08 of the game.
The U.S. never backed down and continued to fight for the win, but with shots not falling (2-7 FGs in the closing minutes), the red, white and blue were unable to retake the lead.
"We are a very close team," said Harris. "We just kept giving confidence to one another and instilling it in one another throughout the game. We tried to stay up for each other even when we were down and in those last few seconds. The ball just didn't bounce in our way. There's nothing we can do about that, but we take it to heart that we played as hard as we could."
Russia outrebounded the USA 48-37 and shot 52.4 percent from the field (33-63 FGs) compared to the USA's 40.2 percent from the field (33-82 FGs). The USA notched 22 points off of 17 Russian turnovers, while Russia got eight points off the USA's six turnovers.
Suzie McConnell-Serio (USA and University of Pittsburgh head coach)
Chennedy Carter and Tyasha Harris made the All-Star Five team. What did you think of their play throughout this tournament?
Chennedy has been a spark off the bench. She’s definitely a scorer, and when we needed a basket, that’s who we were going to, putting the ball in her hands and letting her make things happen. Tyasha had been solid. Hindsight is always 20/20. When you have a player like her and you put her on the bench – she got a bit tired and we took her out to rest her and didn’t put her back in. Obviously, hindsight is 20/20. She should have probably been on the floor late in the game. That’s something that I’ll second-guess doing.
Chennedy Carter (Mansfield, Texas)
What does it mean to you to set a new USA U19 single-game scoring record with 31 points?
It really doesn’t mean anything to me. Thirty-one points and a loss is really not important to me. I’m glad, and that’s a big deal, but I’d rather have 31 and that gold medal around my neck.
How tough was playing Russia and their tandem of bigs tonight?
It was very tough when you’re a smaller sized guard playing against girls that are 6-foot-4, so it is a tough matchup. But, I gave it my all and we all fought hard. We just have to get them next time.
What did your fight down the stretch say about this team?
We all have heart, and everybody plays a big role with this team. We came far, and we could not have done this without each other. I’m super happy we got this far. It’s been an amazing blessing to play with USA Basketball.
Did it seem like Russia was out for revenge from their 2015 defeat in the final?
Yeah, I feel like they were, just a little bit. We kept a focus. All the calls weren’t going our way, and we couldn’t really finish at the rim, so most of this is on us. We can take this loss and get better from it.
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