United States advances to semifinals

Published 6:58 pm Saturday, August 4, 2007

By Staff
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – Notre Dame guard Melissa Lechlitner and her United States teammates booked their place in the semifinals at the FIBA U19 World Championships with an 85-66 quarterfinal win over the Czech Republic on Friday at NTC Arena in Bratislava, Slovakia.
Lechlitner registered two points, one assist and one steal in 12 minutes as the USA (7-0) reached the last four at the U19 Worlds for the fourth consecutive time.
The United States will play Spain (5-2) for the third time in two weeks when the two countries meet in semifinal action today at 2:15 p.m..
The Americans recently defeated the Spaniards in two hard-fought contests, winning 79-71 on July 21 in an exhibition game on the Canary Islands, then taking a 74-66 decision this past Wednesday (July 31) in second-round play at the U19 World Championships. The latter contest remains the closest game played by the USA at this year's tournament.
The Stars and Stripes capitalized on their size advantage in the post against the Czech Republic (3-4), with Jantel Lavender pouring in a game-high 25 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Allyssa DeHaan logged a double-double with 12 points and a game-best 11 rebounds, while Maya Moore tallied 13 points and Jasmine Thomas added 11 points for the United States, which didn't shoot particularly well at only 40.7 percent (33-of-81). However, the USA made up for it at the defensive end, limiting the Czechs to a .351 field goal percentage (26-of-74) while building a 55-43 rebounding margin and forcing the European side into 20 turnovers. Katerina Elhotova led three Czech Republic players in double figures with 18 points.
Both sides fought for the upper hand early in Friday's quarterfinal, with neither team able to gain more than a one-possession edge for much of the first quarter. The Czech Republic made the first move, scoring the final five points of the opening period, including a three-pointer by Kamila Stepanova with 36 seconds left, to take a 23-21 lead after one quarter.
That advantage held up for the first three minutes of the second stanza before the United States went on a 9-0 run in a span of 62 seconds, grabbing control of the game at 38-27 on Krystal Thomas' layup with 5:33 remaining until the break. The Czechs got as close as three points twice later in the frame, but Angie Bjorklund beat the halftime horn with a jumper to give the American side a 42-37 lead.
That momentum seemed to carry into the third quarter for the United States, which gave up an opening three-pointer, but then went on a 15-3 run to boost its edge back to 57-43 with a little more than three minutes to go in the period. Moore scored six points and Jasmine Thomas added five points in the spree, which set the Czech Republic on its heels. The European club never got closer than nine points after that, with the final margin matching the largest of the day for the USA.
In addition to the United States-Spain semifinal, Serbia (7-0) and Sweden (5-2) will comprise Saturday's other matchup in the last four.