Today in Moscow, the USA U21 basketball team scored a decisive victory over Australia, 96-73, to win the FIBA World Championship and bring a gold medal home to America.
After starting flat against Australia in the preliminary round, the Americans were not about to do so again. They scored the first basket of today's game and then took off, leading 32-21 at the end of the first quarter. By that time, 9 players on the USA team were already on the scoreboard. The Americans extended their lead to 55-40 at the break. The Australians made a run in the fourth quarter, reeling off 11 unanswered points in 2 minutes and 12 seconds, closing the gap to 8, but the Americans had seen enough, shifted into a higher gear, and put the game away.
The Americans' victory today and throughout the tournament was clearly a well-balanced effort. In fact, there were 5 Americans in double figures today. Still, the BasketCases have to give a special shout out to Crystal "All World" Langhorne, who led the USA today in scoring (23) and rebounding (14), as she's done several times during the tournament. (If Lang doesn't end up as the tournament MVP we will be shocked.) And as much as this pains us as Terps fans (j/k), we must also give a shout out to USA Head Coach Joanne P. (bite me) McCallie for the team's unbeaten record and great success. (The next time that new Duke Coach P meets up with Lang and Harp on the hardwood, they'll be wearing Maryland red. No doubt as happy as Coach P surely is right now, there must be a little voice whispering in her head . . . "be afraid, be very afraid.")
Congratulations to the entire USA basketball team and coaching staff for a phenomenal performance and the World Championship!
Photo Credit: USA Basketball
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Update: Well, to our great surprise, Lang was NOT named the MVP of the Championship. In fact, no member of the gold-medal-winning Team USA was! Nope, the MVP honor was given to Sandrine Gruda of France. France? They were upset in the semi-finals by Australia, a team that the Americans beat twice in the tournament. France wound up winning the bronze medal (as in, third place) in a game against Russia. As for Gruda, she was 1-8 in the bronze medal game.