UConn Class of 2014 target A’ja Wilson had game-highs of 19 points and 11 rebounds in 16 minutes today to lead the U.S. to a 108-67 rout of Japan in the quarterfinals of the FIBA U-19 World Championship in Klaipeda, Lithuania.
The U.S., which set a team single-game rebounding record with 70 (Japan had 32), led 51-32 at halftime behind 14 points and eight rebounds from Wilson.
UConn sophomore Morgan Tuck added 11 points, four rebounds and two steals in 16 minutes. Breanna Stewart finished with four points (2-of-9 FG), 10 rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes. Moriah Jefferson had with four points, three rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes.
The U.S. (7-0) will meet Australia (6-1) in the semifinals Saturday at 1:15 p.m. (ESPN3). Spain and France will meet in the other semifinal match-up at 11 a.m. (ESPN3).
Here are postgame comments from Tuck and Wilson (courtesy of USA Basketball) …
Q: How were you able to overpower a good team like Japan so quickly?
A: “It started in the first half with Bashaara (Graves) and A’ja. They really established our inside presence. They were smaller, so we knew that’s what we had to do. Our guards did a good job for us, especially Moriah really pushing the tempo. We just continued doing that in the second half.’’
Q: Was your game plan to pound the ball inside due to the height advantage?
A: “Definitely. They were double- and triple-teaming, so we did a good job of kicking it out and then getting it back into the post for a layup. That was our big focus, getting it inside.’’
Q: What do you expect to see from Australia tomorrow?
A: “I expect it to be very physical. When we played them in the Canary Islands, it was very physical. We were down the whole game, so I think we’re coming in with a chip on our shoulder that we don’t want to be the team that’s losing the whole time and then barely get a win.’’
Q: Was your size advantage helping you against Japan?
A: “Oh yes, a lot. Coach told us that they were going to be small, but I didn’t know they were going to be that small. She was like, `I want you to be 6-4, so don’t put the ball on the floor. Just look for your teammates and look for your shot.’ Once I really got used to not putting the ball on the floor, everything started to fall into place.’’
Q: How were you feeling?
A: “I felt good. I’m just trying to get used to the play out here, so I’m starting to really get it when I get in. I’m just playing my role and feeling good.’’
Q: What do you expect to see against Australia?
A: “I expect to see their top game, their best game. That goes for any team out here when they play the U.S. They’re going their top and we’re going to play our top, so it should be a good game.’’