HAMBURG, GERMANY - The United States and Spain put on quite the show for an IWBF World Championship placement game that wasn’t the headliner. The game developed like an opera — it had a build-up, a dramatic twist, a climax, and then a final crescendo to leave the crowd applauding for more.
Spain’s Sonia Ruiz missed a point blank layup at the buzzer, as the United States held on to beat Spain in 56-54 nail biter. Rose Hollermann of Elysian, Minnesota hit two free throws to take the lead for good with 2:13 left in the game. Hollermann said hitting those game-clinching free throw late in the game put her “in her happy place.”
“That’s probably one of me favorite parts of the game, going to the line in close games,” Hollermann said. “As a competitor, I love playing in close games. It’s even better when all the pressure comes on you and you get to the free throw line.”
Announcers alluded to cold temperature in the arena several times during the IWBF English broadcast, as both teams shot only 40 percent on the night. The climate did not effect Hollerman, who poured in 31 points (on 50 shooting) to go with 11 rebounds and six assists.
Spain owned a clear size advantage, and the U.S. attempted to force Spain to score for the perimeter. Despite their efforts, the America started down 0-6, and Hollerman went deep into the bags of tricks. She rattled off eight straight points and scored 15 of her team’s 17 point in the period. Victoria Alonso of Spain went bucket for bucket with Hollermann, batting in the paint and scoring 10 points of her own in the first. The Spanish set Alonso up with great position off textbook seals, and ended the first quarter up 18-17.
In the second quarter, Hollermann attracted more defensive attention, and distributed to her open teammates. Emily Oberst of Brookfield, Wisconsin came off the bench and provided vital secondary scoring after a few uncharacteristic, wide-open misses from Lindsey Zurbrugg of Portland, Oregon. The U.S. turned Spain over nine times in the second quarter that saw eight lead changes, seven ties, and the U.S. leading 33-29 at the break.
The United States came out of halftime buzzing with energy, speeding across the court on a quick 6-0 run to push the lead out to ten. After shooting 2-for-8 in the first half, Morgan Wood of Gordonsville, Tennessee found her touch and shot 4-for-5, scoring nine points in the quarter. Hollermann, who's won two NWBA Collegiate Nationals Championships with Wood, continued to feed her longtime teammate despite early struggles.
“I really just fed off my teammates,” Wood said. “Just trying to get my mind right. Everybody else was playing their game and I just had to get back on task.”
Spain went on a roaring 11-2 run to start the fourth quarter, spearheaded by Virginia Perez. Perez, who finished with 19 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, used her length to score over multiple U.S. defenders at will. The same shots that the Americans hit in the first half didn’t fall, with several shot dancing around the rim and spinning out. Spain to took the lead with 3:20 left in the game, prompting U.S women's head coach Trooper Johnson of San Lorenzo, California to call a timeout.
“It was all part of the ebb and flow of the game,” Johnson said. “Everything washed out. Luckily when it came down to end of the game, we were able to come up big."
Oberst hit Wood streaking down the court for a wide open layup to make the score 53-30. With less than a minute left on the clock, that put one of the final nails in the coffin for Spain. Wood finished game with 15 points and 11 assists.
The Spanish controlled the paint, out-rebounding the U.S. 45 to 29. Their flaws emerged as the American pushed the pace, coughing up the ball 17 times.
“We looked at their size but we also recognized that they, at times, lacked speed,” Hollermann said. “That why we went 5-0 out on offense and put pressure on them in the fullcourt.”
The U.S. improved to 4-3 through the tournament with Friday’s win. They’ll face Canada in the fifth/sixth place game on Saturday at 6:15 AM Eastern.
Joining NWBA Hall of Famer Johnson on the sideline are his assistant coaches Amy Spangler of Madison Wisconsin, and Adam Kramer of Northport, Alabama. Kearstin Gehlhausen of Denver, Colorado serves as the Team Leader, with Karla Franconi of Lexington, Kentucky, filling the athletic trainer position.
The U.S. had returned home with a medal from every World Championships, except for the 2014 World Championships, since its inception in 1990, accumulating two gold medals and four silver medals. USA played for the gold medal in six of the last seven IWBF World Championships.
2018 IWBF World Championships
August 16 - 26, 2018
2018 IWBF World Championships Results
USA def. Algeria, 75-38 (1-0)
Germany def. USA, 70-54 (1-1)
China def. USA, 74 - 43 (1-2)
USA def. France, 57-25 (2-2)
USA def. Argentina, 66-30 (3-2)
Quarterfinals: Great Britain def. USA, 70-47 (3-3)
Placement Game: USA def Spain, 56-54 (4-3)
U.S. Women’s Schedule for 2018 IWBF World Championships
8/17 vs Algeria 11:30 AM (Eastern/New York)
8/19 vs Germany 6:45 AM
8/20 vs China 12:00 PM
8/21 vs France 10:15 AM
8/22 vs Argentina 4:00 AM
8/23 Quarterfinals, vs Great Britain, 12:00 PM
8/24 Placement Game, vs Spain, 11:45 AM
8/25 5th/6th Place Game, vs Canada, 6:15 AM
It's not over for the ladies of Team USA! They play their world championship 5-7th placement game against Spain today at 11:45 AM, EST. Stay here to watch the game, get live stats and post-game recaps!