DURHAM, N.C. – Duke Blue Devils sophomore forward Azurá Stevens can say she had a golden summer.
Not only due to the bright sun shining down on her from above, but emanating from the new piece of hardware that she earned with USA Basketball – a gold medal that resulted from a 78-70 final win over Russia at the FIBA U19 World Championship in Chekhov, Russia on Sunday.
Stevens posted 18 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals in 27 minutes of play in the championship game.
“Amazing,” Stevens said.
“When the clock was ticking down, I was just so elated with emotions and couldn’t even contain it. I was so excited. It is just awesome, especially winning a gold medal with this team. This whole journey has been awesome.”
In a game that saw six lead changes and 10 ties, the Americans trailed 21-19 at the end of the first quarter.
Team USA outscored the hosts 46-20 in the paint, and out-rebounded Russia 48-35.
“It was really hard, especially against the crowd,” Stevens said.
“They were so amped up. It was like playing against another player. Their girls down low are just really physical, which we have dealt with before, but we had not really faced a team with three and four girls like they had. That was tough on the inside.”
The win added to the USA’s overall record to 73-12 dating to the first U19 tournament in 1985.
In in the past eight U19s, the USA has won seven gold medals and one bronze medal with a 61-4 record during that span, including this year’s 7-0 mark.
Notes: Over seven games, the USA squad averaged 49.1 points per game in the paint, while limiting opponents to just 18.9 points near the basket, as well as averaging 56.9 rebounds to opposing teams’ 35.3 per contest…Although not earning a medal at the competition, incoming Duke freshman Angela Salvadores posted 22 points, four assists, three assists and three steals in 34 minutes for Spain in a 69-62 loss to Australia in the bronze medal game. Coming off leading the FIBA U19 World Championship in scoring with an 18.4 per game average, Salvadores will next represent Spain in the FIBA U18 European Championship from July 30 through Aug. 9 in Celje, Slovenia.