Bashaara Graves set a winning tone Friday for Team USA at the U19 World Championships.
Tennessee’s sophomore forward scored 13 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a 108-67 quarterfinal victory over Japan in Klaipeda, Lithuania.
“Bashaara Graves started the game with a really tough mentality,” said U.S. coach Katie Meier, the coach at Miami (Fla.). “At the beginning of the game, Mo Jefferson, Morgan Tuck and Bashaara Graves were just taking care of business. They were very focused; they really wanted to respond.”
Forward A’ja Wilson, a recruiting target of UT’s, came off the bench to post game highs of 19 points and 11 rebounds for the U.S.
Team USA (7-0) will face Australia (6-1) on Saturday in the semifinals. Spain and France will play in the other semifinal.
With 70 rebounds, the American women set a new USA U19 single-game record, eclipsing the former record of 68, set twice by the 2007 U.S. squad.
“We wanted to use our size,” Graves said. “We knew we were bigger than (Japan). We got a lot of offensive rebounds against them, so that was mainly what we did.”
The U.S. had a close call against Australia during a warm-up tournament in the Canary Islands, winning 71-66 on July 12.
“They’re going to be a lot more physical than Japan is,” Graves said. “But I think we’re ready for it.”