U.S. Rolls Past Netherlands Behind Wilson, Tuck

UConn Class of 2014 target A’ja Wilson had game-highs of 20 points and eight rebounds and added three steals and two blocks in 17 minutes today to lead the U.S. to a 102-42 rout of Netherlands in its opening game of the second round at the FIBA U-19 World Championship in Panavėžys, Lithuania.

The U.S., which led 56-19 at halftime, held Netherlands to 25.0 percent shooting from the field and forced 28 turnovers.

UConn sophomore Morgan Tuck contributed 18 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals in 15 minutes. Breanna Stewart had 10 points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks in 22 minutes.

Moriah Jefferson, who did not play against Mali Saturday due to a sprained left wrist, finished with two points, three assists and one steal in 15 minutes.

The U.S. (4-0) will continue second-round pool play Tuesday against Canada (2-2) at 1:15 p.m.

Here are postgame comments from Tuck and Wilson (courtesy of USA Basketball) …

On tonight’s game …
A: “Netherlands is a pretty good team. They’re disciplined and they run their sets pretty well. We really focused on their three main players and we tried to take them out of the game, especially their point guard (Laura Cornelius), then just play our game and run the floor. I think we did a really good job of getting steals, running the floor and passing the ball.’’

Q: How much does it help to be able to work on different things after you’ve expanded the lead?
A: “I think it helps a lot, because we didn’t get to practice together for that long. So, we’re using parts of games more like a practice, just to make sure we’re working on things that we really didn’t have time to go over.’’

Q: What about some of the younger kids, how important are their contributions?
A: “I think it’s very important to make sure we have depth on our bench so we don’t have a drop-off between our starters and our second group that comes in. They do a great job of coming in, especially A’ja and Bri-T (Brianna Turner), they really rebound for us. That’s the biggest thing that they bring – the offensive rebounding. Like today, A’ja played really great inside.’’

Q: How has your role changed from the 2011 USA U19 World Championship Team to this one?
A: “Two years ago I was just trying to fit in, trying to find a way to help in any way, trying to do the small things. Now, I’ve kind of taken on a leadership role. I’m trying to make sure that everyone is on the same page for the shootarounds and the games, trying to be like a mother type with the team and trying to make sure that everyone has everything that they need and that we’re all ready to go.’’

Q: Were you feeling good out there tonight?
A: “Oh yeah, I was. Nothing really changed from the past games, but it just seems like in this game I felt pretty good. The game’s starting to come to me now, the international game. So, every game I’m trying to push to get better.’’

Q: Do you like the international game?
A: “I do. It’s very nice. It lets you play. When I play on my high school team, every little thing you do is a foul. Here, they let you bang. They let you fight for it. That’s how I like to play.’’

Q: How were you getting your points tonight?
A: “I was really just cleaning up everybody’s shots. They were great shots they were taking, but they just weren’t falling. I was just rebounding and putting them back up. One of our goals was offensive rebounds, so I really focused on as the ball would go up to go get it and put it back in the basket. So, that’s what I did.’’

Q: How important is this team’s depth in terms of scoring?
A: “It’s going to be very, very, very important because these teams here, they scout you so they know who we go to here and there. So, other players around the court have to step up, make big buckets and get great baskets.’’

On Canada …
A: “I think Canada is the closest team here that plays our style of the game. So, it’s going to be a good game to watch.’’