McCray Scores 12 As Team USA Downs Poland 75-67 At The 2009 World University Games
July 5, 2009
BELGRADE, Serbia –
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An 11-0 run that stretched from the end of the first half into the first two minutes of the third period helped the USA Women’s World University Games Team (4-0) fight off a resilient Poland (2-2) team and remain undefeated with a 75-67 win on Sunday evening in Belgrade, Serbia.
Kansas senior All-American Danielle McCray came off the bench to record 12 points, while also grabbing three rebounds and dishing three assists. McCray knocked down 5-of-7 shots from the field, including 2-of-3 shots from beyond the arc to help the United States secure its fourth-straight win.
“They (Poland) were playing a sagging zone, they tried to force us to move the ball a lot,” said McCray, who has posted double figures in the last three games for the U.S. “In the past we’ve been able to beat people one-on-one and make the extra pass, things like that, but they kind of slowed our offense down and made us work for what we wanted to get.”
Tina Charles (Connecticut / Jamaica, N.Y.) recorded a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds; and three U.S. players, Alexis Gray-Lawson (California / Oakland, Calif.), Jeanette Pohlen (Stanford / Brea, Calif.) and Kayla Pedersen (Stanford / Fountain Hills, Ariz.), contributed nine points.
“I thought the second half was great. We came out, jumped on them, got that 10-point cushion and really didn’t relinquish it much the whole second half,” said USA and Arizona State University head coach Charli Turner Thorne. “Poland’s a good team. They’re coached well, they played us well. They played their zone a lot differently than we had seen it on tape. They made adjustments for our inside game and made us beat them from the outside. Thank goodness McCray and Pohlen and some other players hit some shots and did some good things.”
Despite shooting 4-of-8 from 3-point in the first quarter, including two threes from Gray-Lawson, the USA was a dismal 1-of-11 from inside the arc in the first 10 minutes. Poland used its 50.0 shooting from the field (8-16 FGs) and a 13-7 rebounding advantage to remain within one point, 18-17, as the teams headed to the bench for the first break.
“I think we all knew that eventually there would come a time where we wouldn’t be blowing everybody out,” Gray-Lawson said. “We just have to suck it up and play our game.”
Jacinta Monroe (Florida State / Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) put two points on the board just 15 seconds into the second period, but Poland had a response for every U.S. basket, and a three-point-play at 1:46 helped Poland tie the game at 32-32. With just 1:11 remaining before halftime, however, Pedersen converted on an offensive rebound and Pohlen followed with a 3-pointer to help the USA head to the locker rooms with a 37-32 lead.
“I thought we just fought hard, stuck together and ultimately that’s what won the game,” Pohlen said. “We made some big plays towards the end and really made some stops that we weren’t getting in the first half. I think we definitely had a better second half effort.”
The run continued into the third period, which the USA opened with another 3-pointer from Pohlen, who finished 3-of-4 from deep, and a three-point play from Charles, and Poland called a timeout at 8:43 with the score at 43-32.
The USA reached its biggest lead of the game, 48-32, in the third, but Poland strung together a 6-2 run to cut the gap to seven, 55-48.
Poland never relented and came within three points with a basket at 8:28 that brought the score to 57-54, but the USA responded to each attack. Led by six fourth-quarter points from Pedersen, the USA outscored Poland 20-19 in the fourth quarter to secure the 75-67 win.