Kazan, Russia – Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper scored five points and grabbed five rebounds to help the USA Basketball Women’s World University Games Team to a dramatic 79-78 victory over Australia in the semifinals Saturday.
Crystal Bradford (Central Michigan) hit the game-winning shot with 14 seconds left in a see-saw game for the United States. The U.S. squad trailed by as many as nine points in the first quarter, then responded to build a 17-point lead with just over seven minutes left in the game. But a furious 24-5 rally in just over five minutes in the fourth quarter, left Australia with a 78-76 lead in the final minute. Bradford saved the day by scoring the final three points in the final minute. She finished with nine points.
The U.S. team will face Russia in Monday’s gold medal game. Russia cruised into the title game with a 69-51 victory over Chinese Taipei. The USA will play for gold on Monday, July 15 at 12:30 p.m. with live national TV coverage on ESPNU.
Hooper, a 6-2 senior forward from Alliance, Neb., scored three points late in the second quarter, tying the game at 31 with 1:16 left. For the United States, who trailed 20-13 at the end of the first quarter, it marked the first time the USA had matched the Australians in the game.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (UConn) added a free throw to give the United States its first lead of the game at 32-31 with 54 seconds left, before Alice Kunek hit a shot to send Australia to halftime with a 33-32 lead.
The United States owned the third quarter, including its final two points of the period from Hooper, building its then-largest lead of the game at 62-47 with 27 seconds left in the quarter.
Hooper’s five points and five boards came in just 11 minutes, giving her one of the most productive days by a U.S. player. She added a steal while going 2-of-3 from the field and 1-of-2 at the line for the United States. In her first five international games, Hooper has averaged 6.0 points and 5.2 rebounds in just over 12 minutes per game for the USA. Taken over a 40-minute game, Hooper would be averaging 19.0 points and 16.5 rebounds for the United States throughout the World University Games.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis produced the game’s only double-double with 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds in 35 minutes of action. Mosqueda-Lewis went 4-of-12 from the field.
Odyssey Sims (Baylor), who led the USA with 20 points in 35 minutes, pumped in 12 in the third quarter, while Bria Hartley (UConn) and Aaryn Ellenberg (Oklahoma) each added five points in the quarter. Hartley finished with 14 points while Ellenberg pitched in seven. Hartley’s 14 points came in 35 minutes, but she went just 4-of-13 from the floor.
The U.S. squad pushed its margin to 17 points at 71-54 with seven minutes left, thanks in part to five early points in the quarter from LSU center Theresa Plaisance, who finished with 10 points and three boards in the game.
But the Australians mounted a furious rally, scoring 10 straight points in less than two minutes to trim the U.S. lead to 71-64 with 5:12 left.
Hartley answered with a three-point play to return the margin to double figures at 74-64 with 4:50 remaining.
After Australia’s Kunek hit a pair of free throws, Sims hit a shot to give Team USA a 76-66 edge with 3:51 left.
But Kunek fueled a 12-0 surge that gave the Australian’s a 78-76 lead with 1:08 left. Kunek led four Australians in double figures with 20 points and nine rebounds. Marianna Tolo contributed 16 points, including the two free throws with 1:08 remaining that gave Australia the lead. Kunek and Tolo combined for 20 of Australia’s 29 points in the final quarter.
Bradford then came up huge for the United States. Her free throw with 54 seconds left, cut Australia’s margin to one at 78-77, before her shot with 14 seconds left gave the USA a 79-78 victory. Bradford finished with nine points, three rebounds, a steal and a block in 16 minutes.
A replay of Saturday’s exciting game, which was televised live nationally by ESPNU, will re-air in its entirety at 9 p.m.on ESPNU. It will also re-air on Sunday at 4 and 10 a.m.
The USA advances to Monday’s gold medal game, which will tip at 12:30 p.m., with live national TV coverage by ESPNU. The gold medal game will re-air on ESPNU at 8 p.m. on Monday and at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, July 16.
USA Basketball Women’s World University Games Results & Schedule
Monday, July 8 – USA 120, Mali 32 (Pool B)
Tuesday, July 9 – USA 101, Czech Republic 61 (Pool B)
Wednesday, July 10 – USA 105, Brazil 75 (Pool B)
Friday, July 12 – USA 103, Sweden 72 (Quarterfinals)
Saturday, July 13 – USA 79, Australia 78 (Semifinals)
ESPNU will re-air Saturday, July 13 at 9 p.m., and Sunday, July 14 at 4 a.m. and 10 a.m.
Monday, July 15 – Gold Medal Game – 12:30 p.m. (ESPNU Live)
ESPNU will re-air at 8 p.m. and on Tuesday, July 16 at 7 a.m