Posted 5 months ago
By John Axtell
The Americans, who squeaked past Australia by 1 point on a late put-back in the semifinals, led the Russians by 9 after a quarter and kept the lead at double digits almost all the rest of the way.
Alliance native and Nebraska star Jordan Hooper logged 31 minutes in her first USA start , second-high on the team, with 9 points and a team-high 9 rebounds…the only one with over 6 boards. Entering the contest, Hooper had averaged 6.2 points and 5.0 rebounds while playing 12.6 minutes per game in the USA’s first five wins.
The timing of her points and rebounds in the finals were more important than her totals. Hooper got 3 points…including the game’s first 3-pointer…and 3 rebounds in the opening minutes, 7 points in the 1st quarter to fuel the U-S to leads of 13-3 and 22-13 at the quarter break.
Hooper started the second quarter on the bench, and while she was out, the Russian team quickly trimmed the USA margin to 25-21 with 7:46 left in the first half. She returned and helped shut out the Russians for the next three minutes to ignite a 7-0 USA run and just 6 points for the rest of the half.
Hooper’s offensive rebound and assist to Crystal Bradford (Central Michigan) in the corner for a three-pointer, gave the USA a 38-25 lead with 2:43 left in the half. It was the first of back-to-back threes by Bradford in a 45-second stretch to send the U.S. squad to halftime with a 41-27 lead.
Hooper played every minute of the third quarter and again keyed a U.S. defense that helped the team build a 68-47 lead at the end of three quarters. Hooper’s final bucket came with 7:30 left in the game, giving the USA a 75-55 lead.
For the game, Hooper hit 4-of-8 shots from the field, including 1-of-3 three three-pointers. She was officially credited with two assists, although her passes led directly to four USA baskets. She had one official blocked shot on a 3-on-1 Russian fastbreak, caught a pair of Russian passes, and forced several turnovers, but was not officially given a steal.
In the tournament, Hooper finished with 6.5 points and 5.8 rebounds in 15.7 minutes per game, giving her per 40-minute averages of 16.6 points and 14.9 boards.
The U-S men…who missed the medal round…play Finland for 9th Tuesday at 3:00 pm…5 am MDT. They beat Germany 92-70 on Monday as Creighton’s Doug McDermott had 18 points and 4 rebounds in 24-minutes. Finland advanced with an 82-70 win over Mexico.
The men’s title game matches Australia…who beat the U-S in the preliminary round…and Russia. The Aussies edged Serbia 68-65 while Russia took a 78-68 win over Canada…the other team to beat the U-S in the prelims.