KAZAN, Russia — Gold looks pretty good on a basketball résumé. That’s what University of Oklahoma women’s coach Sherri Coale and rising Sooner senior Aaryn Ellenberg will be playing for in the World University Games after escaping Australia 79-78 in Saturday’s semifinals.
Team USA had led by as much as 17 in the fourth period, but actually ended up trailing with less than a minute left. After forcing a shot-clock violation on the defensive end, Central Michigan’s Crystal Bradford hit the game-winning basket on a putback from her own lay-up attempt.
Team USA held on defense for two Australia possessions. The last coming after a missed shot and jump ball with seven seconds left. Another miss by Australia put Team USA (5-0) in Monday’s gold-medal game against Russia (5-0).
“I tell you what, that 14 seconds felt like forever,” Coale said. “And then we did everything right, and I thought came up with the rebound, and they called a jump ball and we had to defend them for seven more. We had not been really good in defending their inbound plays. For a split second there, I thought about changing the way we were guarding on the inbound, but I felt like the most important thing for our kids at that point was to be sure, and so we stuck with what we had been doing and got them to take a tough shot and came up with the rebound somehow. We've been given a gift.”
The USA survived to face host Russia, 69-51 winners over Chinese Taipei, in a 12:30 p.m. Central game that will be televised live on ESPNU.
The Americans are looking for their third straight and ninth overall gold medal at the World University Games.
Ellenberg pitched in with seven points, having played 17 minutes, and shooting 2-of-6 from the field with a pair of free throws.
Team USA was held to a tournament low 38-percent shooting, and was just 4-of-19 from 3-point range.