By Steve Goldberg
Bangkok, Thailand -- With a hard fought 72-49 win over Great Britain in the gold medal game, the United States brought home their third IWBF Women’s U25 Wheelchair Basketball World Championship, having also won in 2019 and the inaugural 2011 event. The USA did not compete in the 2015 tournament.
The Americans were led by the triple-edged sword of Ixhelt Gonzalez, Bailey Moody, and Josie Dehart who scored 26, 24, and 20 points respectively. They were as efficient as they were effective, shooting 50%, 54.2%, and 66.7% in turn.
Gonzalez had a remarkable performance across the board, also leading her team and all players in rebounds (11), assists (9), and steals (7), coming tantalizingly close to a quadruple double in the title game. Moody and Dehart also added 4 assists and 2 steals apiece. Moody had 7 rebounds.
Every ounce of that effort was required as it was a close encounter until the Americans shut the door in the fourth quarter.
The USA led by six (16-10) after the first ten minutes, closing with an 8-1 run. Great Britain would get within two points, and it was just a 31-28 margin at the half. Ahead by three with two minutes to play in the third quarter, coach Ryan Hynes’s squad closed strong to take a 9-point lead into the fourth quarter. Moody scored 10 points in the third.
The Brits would never get closer than seven points as the Americans surged to the finish and the 23-point victory. It was the second win over Great Britain after a 69-42 win in the preliminary round. That match was equally tight in the first half until the USA blew it open in the third quarter.
It was a dominant overall performance for the Americans, who went 7-0, defeating Spain (85-33), Australia (85-16), GB (69-42), China (55-23), and hosts Thailand (59-24) in the first round. They roasted China again in the semifinal (61-19).
Gonzalez was honored as MVP for the tournament. She averaged 23.3 points per game and scored 40 with 10 assists against Great Britain in preliminary play.