Vanderbilt freshman Paris Kea.
For Friday's box score: Click here
For Live Streaming of Saturday's game: Click here
Vanderbilt freshman Paris Kea and her USA teammates moved a step closer to a gold medal on Friday night.
Kea had six points, four assists and one rebound as the USA's U18 national team knocked off Canada, 107-76, to advance to the semifinals of the FIBA Championship in Colorado Springs, Colo.
With the win, the USA secured the No. 1 seed out of Group A. The USA squad will face Argentina (2-1), the No. 2 seed of Group B, in the semifinals at 6:30 p.m. (Central) on Saturday.
Kea -- a former standout at Page High in Greensboro, N.C. -- saw 18 minutes of playing time in Friday's win. She finished 3-of-7 from the floor for the USA team, which pulled away in the second half after a tightly-contested first half that featured six lead changes and five ties.
Kea said the intense first half helped the USA players regain their focus after the team had breezed to lopsided wins in the first two rounds of the tournament.
"We had never been down in a game yet, and (tonight's game was) a wake up call," said Kea. "We had to come together as a team, and it definitely helped us bond more. We saw a different side of each other. We figured out whom to call on and when to call on them."
The USA team, which is seeking its seventh straight gold medal, opened this year's tourney with a 104-55 win over Mexico on Thursday night, and followed that with a 118-50 victory over El Salvador, in the second round on Friday. But Saturday's contest was far more competitive -- at least for the first few minutes.
Canada owned a 23-21 lead at the end of the first quarter and held a 33-27 advantage at the 7:27 mark of the second. But the USA responded by outscoring Canada 27-8 over the remainder of the second quarter to build a 54-41 halftime lead, and then maintained control throughout the second half.
"We knew Canada was going to come out and play extremely well against us in the beginning, but what we told our team was: 'A marathon isn't won in the first mile,'" said USA head coach Dawn Staley (the head coach at the University of South Carolina). "I like what we bring into this tournament over a 40-minute period, and I thought we responded."
Napheesa Collier (O'Fallon, Mo.) led the USA with 22 points, 10 rebounds and four steals. Brianna Turner (Pearland, Texas) finished with 21 points and eight rebounds for the USA team, which improved its all-time FIBA tournament record to 45-2 in the U18 age division since the tourney's inception in 1988.
For Friday's full release: Click here
For USA's schedule: Click here