FAIRBANKS — Former West Valley High School standout Ruthy Hebard grabbed a team-high seven rebounds to help guide the USA women’s U19 basketball team to a 78-51 victory over France on Friday in the quarterfinals of the FIBA U19 World Cup in Udine, Italy.
With the win, Team USA (5-0) will make its ninth-straight appearance in the U19 medal semifinal game when it faces Japan at 11 a.m. AKDT today.
Hebard, who is set to begin her sophomore year at the University of Oregon, finished with four points from the foul line after going 0 for 4 from the field.
“The struggles that we could have anticipated happened offensively tonight, because (France is) very physical and they disrupt what you are trying to run offensively,” USA U19 and University of Pittsburgh head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said in a USA Basketball news release. “We got off to a slow start, but then I thought as the game went along, we got more comfortable and defending their sets and the pace of the game.”
Team USA counted on its offense to gain separation from France, especially in the second quarter when the Americans allowed only four points.
The team locked in on the defensive end during the fourth quarter, too, outscoring France 23-11 to secure the win.
Chennedy Carter, from Timberview High School in Mansfield, Texas, led all scorers with 18 points after making seven of her 10 field goals.
Joyner Holmes, of Cedar Hill, Texas, added 14 points, while Tyasha Harris, of Noblesville, Indiana, finished with 12 in the win.
Holmes also grabbed six rebounds for Team USA.
France was led by Tima Pouye, who was the only player to record a double-digit point total with 15 points.
Kadiatou Sissoko chipped in nine points in defeat.
Alecia Sutton, a St. Louis native who scored seven points for Team USA, said Friday’s win was all about ramping the energy on the defensive end.
“At first, we started slow on defense. But after the half, we picked it up a little,” Sutton said in the release. “We all kind of started off a bit slow in the beginning. Coach just told us to keep our heads and keep playing, and then let’s build a big lead coming out of the second half and try to start off better.”
Sutton added the team will have to be ready for Japan, which cruised to a 95-71 victory over Spain on Friday in its quarterfinals matchup.
“I think they are going to pressure us a lot,” she said. “We respect Japan, and we think they are goint to compete really hard. We just have to respect them and play hard, too.”
Contact News-Miner sports writer Brad Joyal at 459-7530. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMSportsGuy.