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Basketball - 25. June 2007.

USA/FRA - U21 women claim sweep of French squad

LA GARDE (FIBA U21 World Championship for Women) - Paving the way in the victory for the U.S. women were Candice Wiggins with game-highs of 14 points and five steals, Courtney Paris  scored 13 points and grabbed a team-best nine boards, while Crystal Langhorne  and Abby Waner each contributed 10 points.

The USA is preparing to defend its world title in this age group, open to athletes 21-years-old or younger at the 2007 FIBA U21 World Championship, held this year June 29-July 8 in Moscow, Russia.

The Americans will remain in Antibes and train through June 25 before traveling to Moscow for the U21 Worlds.

"I think it was a great game for us," said USA U21 National Team and Duke University head coach Joanne P. McCallie . "Defensively we were very strong throughout to hold them to 57 points, that was a good defensive game. Obviously we had a lapse, a significant lapse, but I thought it was good for our team to understand how quickly the transition can be effective, especially internationally. You can talk about it, you can show it on film, but when a team runs off points in transition like the French did during that one segment ...it really taught our team how to control the tempo of the game and how important it is for us to have the ball in our hands more than just for a quick shot it and let it go."

Unlike in the previous two contests, the USA never trailed and a Waner 3-pointer gave the U.S. a 5-2 at 8:04 in the opening frame. While the French would fight the rest of the game, they were never able to tie it up or go ahead the remainder of the game.

The Americans took a 15-10 first-quarter advantage as five different players scored. By halftime the USA was in a different position, owning a 15-point, 38-23, cushion, whereas in the previous two contests the score was even at the midway point.

Opening the second half on a 6-0 tear, the U.S. seemed to have the game fully in control 44-23 with 19:01 to go. However, as the USA began committing turnovers and missing shots, the French quickly capitalized on the USA’s mistakes and reeled off 16 unanswered points. The hosts run ended with 14:51 remaining and the Americans holding onto a 44-39 edge and by the 8:55 mark it was just a four-point margin, 52-48. Essence Carson  got the U.S. back on track with a jumper at 8:27, sparking a 15-3 run and with 1:50 left to play the United States was up 67-51 and closed the series with its third victory.

"I think we didn’t stay focused," said Paris. "It was definitely a lack of focus on our part. They had a lot of steals and fast breaks, us not being in the right spot and things like that. As coach mentioned, we looked at the score and exhaled. We can’t do that again. We have to stay up on it and wait until the end of the game to take any breaks, even if we do have a big lead."

USA Basketball
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