Pair of UConn women's basketball players help US win Pan Am gold

Published on Tuesday, 30 July 2019 21:00
Written by CARL ADAMEC


UConn sophomores Christyn Williams and Olivia Nelson-Ododa did their share for Team USA early in the Pan American Games 3x3 tournament final on Monday.

But when the gold medal was being decided, Oregon seniors Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard did what seniors are supposed to do.

Ionescu and Hebard combined for their team’s final nine points as the Americans won the first Pan Am Games 3x3 title with a 21-17 win over Argentina in Lima, Peru.

Team USA finished 7-0, having routed Brazil 21-5 in Monday’s semifinals.

“One thing we struggled with in this tournament was physicality, and I think we were able to overcome that especially in the big games,” Nelson-Ododa said in a release from USA Basketball. “We were also able to have really big moments where people definitely really shined and were able to come through for us.”

The gold medal was the third for Williams in international play to go with the ones she won at the 2017 FIBA 3x3 U-18 World Cup and the 2018 FIBA U-18 Championships. Nelson-Ododa’s other gold came at last year’s FIBA U-18 Championships.

The 3x3 game is played on a half court with a 12-second shot clock and a 10-minute game clock. The first team to 21 points, or the team in the lead at the end of regulation, is the winner.

Argentina (5-2) held an early lead Monday until a basket by Nelson-Ododa and three points by Williams put the Americans in front to stay. At 12-11, Ionescu - the Wade Trophy and Wooden Award winner during her junior season with the Ducks - took charge.

A Hebard hoop was followed by a two-point basket by Ionescu and a three-point play (a made basket and two free throws) by Hebard to make it 18-12. Hebard wrapped it up with a layup off a pass from Ionescu with 8.4 seconds remaining.

“We were all really determined,” Hebard said. “We didn’t come out as strong as we wanted to but I think we were ready and we knew they were going to give us a few punches. I think we punched back well.”

Ionescu and Hebard finished with seven points each while Williams added five and Nelson-Ododa two.

Next year, 3x3 basketball will make its Olympic debut at the Games in Tokyo.

The next time the Pan Am 3x3 gold medalists will be on the floor together will be this winter at Gampel Pavilion when Oregon takes on UConn at a date and time still to be determined.

Posted in The Bristol Press, UConn on Tuesday, 30 July 2019 21:00. Updated: Tuesday, 30 July 2019 21:03.