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USA women, Massengale maul Mali in WUG opener

9:36 PM, Jul 8, 2013   |    comments
Ariel Massengale
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From UT Sports-- 

KAZAN, Russia (USA Basketball) -- The 2013 USA Basketball Women's World University Games Team (1-0) had 34 assists and shot 66.2 percent from the field to open preliminary round play with a 120-32 victory over Mali (0-1) on Monday night at Olymp Sport Hall in Kazan, Russia.

Bria Hartley (University of Connecticut/North Babylon, N.Y.) led six U.S. players who scored in double figures with 17 points on a perfect 7-of-7 shooting performance, including 3-of-3 from beyond the 3-point arc. Shoni Schimmel (University of Louisville/Mission, Ore.) added 13 points and a game-high nine assists to propel the team to 34 total assists, a USA World University Games record (the previous high was 27 most recently versus Taiwan on Aug. 21, 2011).

Lady Vol rising junior Ariel Massengale (Bolingbrook, Ill.,/Bolingbrook H.S.) was among 12 USA players posting double digits in minutes played. She logged 14 minutes of duty and contributed three assists to the record-setting total and added six points and a pair of steals while committing only one turnover. She nailed one of two shots from the field and all four attempts from the free throw line.

"We got out in transition, ran really well, and Shoni Schimmel sort of opened the flood gates for us with her passing ability when we had advantages in transition offense," said USA head coach Sherri Coale (University of Oklahoma). "And just every day that we play together, we get a little bit more comfortable with one another. The chemistry was better, and we communicated better on defense. Every opportunity to log minutes on the floor together as a unit makes us better."

Cassie Harberts (University of Southern California/San Clemente, Calif.) added 14 points; Tricia Liston (Duke University/River Forest, Ill.) had 13 points; Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (University of Connecticut/Anaheim Hills, Calif.) scored 12 points; and Aaryn Ellenberg (University of Oklahoma/Las Vegas, Nev.) contributed 11 points to give the U.S. six players that scored in double figures. Theresa Plaisance (Louisiana State University/New Orleans, La.) led the USA with 11 rebounds.

The USA shot 66.2 percent from the field (47-71 FGs), 47.8 percent from three-point territory (11-23 3pt FGs) and 93.8 percent from the line (15-16 FTs) to turn in an outstanding all-around performance. Meanwhile, the USA held Mali to just 19.4 percent from the field (12-62 FGs) and forced them to turn the ball over 21 times.

Mali scored the game's first five points before the USA went on an 18-0 run, including eight straight points from Liston, to take an 18-5 lead with 4:56 remaining in the first period. Mali responded with a 7-0 run of their own to tighten the game to 18-12, but the USA would not let it get that close again as they closed the period on a 10-0 run to take a 28-12 lead after the first period.

Holding a 38-17 lead with under five minutes remaining in the first half, Schimmel took over for the USA, distributing six assists on seven U.S. field goals from 4:51 to 42 seconds in the second quarter as the USA lead ballooned to 57-20 heading into halftime.

After closing the first half on an 8-0 run, the USA scored the first 17 points of the third quarter to total a game-high 25-0 run and push the lead to 74-20 with 5:56 left in the third period on a Hartley 3-pointer assisted by Odyssey Sims (Baylor University/Irving, Texas), who had six assists for the game. The USA outscored Mali 37-8 overall for the third period.

The USA held Mali to just four points in the fourth quarter, while scoring 26 to end the game with its largest lead of 88 points.

Next up for the USA is a meeting with Monday's other Group B winner, Czech Republic (1-0), on July 9 at 8:30 p.m. (times listed are local; Kazan, Russia is +8 hours from EDT). Czech Republic defeated Brazil 86-63 prior to the USA's opener. The USA will conclude preliminary round play on July 10 at 12:30 p.m. against Brazil.

Following the preliminary round, the first and second-placed teams in each of the four pools advance to the medal quarterfinals on July 12 to compete for first through eighth places. The remaining teams will play out for ninth to 16th places. The semifinals will be played on July 13, and the finals will be contested on July 15.

The USA is looking for its third straight gold medal at the World University Games women's basketball competition, and ninth overall.

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