Golden era: Another FIBA title for Lady Vol Bashaara Graves, Team USA

Tennessee's Bashaara Graves attempts to score while defended by Auburn's Pyton Davis at Thompson-Boling Arena on Thursday, February 21, 2013. Tennessee won, 83-61. 

(Saul Young/News Sentinel)

Photo by Saul Young, 2013 Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee's Bashaara Graves attempts to score while defended by Auburn's Pyton Davis at Thompson-Boling Arena on Thursday, February 21, 2013. Tennessee won, 83-61. (Saul Young/News Sentinel)

The result of gold medals may be the same, but each Team USA experience for Tennessee’s Bashaara Graves has been different.

This time around, the Lady Vol sophomore started every game in the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women, and took on more of a leadership role.

Her leadership helped contribute to a title as Team USA (9-0) beat France 61-28 on Sunday in Klaipeda, Lithuania.

“I’m one of the oldest ones here and one who has the most experience,” Graves said, “so I was just trying to be a leader to the young ones. I’m starting this time, so I was just trying to get the gold any way I can.”

Graves scored nine points and had eight rebounds in the title game. For the tournament, the SEC Freshman of the Year averaged 8.4 points and 6.2 rebounds. She shot a team-leading 59.2 percent (29-49).

Graves had previously won gold with USA Basketball at the 2009 FIBA Americas U16 Championship for Women, the 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship for Women and the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women.

That doesn’t mean each experience hasn’t been meaningful for Graves.

“It feels great (to win),” Graves said. “(Every time) it always feels like the first time just being out there with my teammates and seeing how happy everyone is. It’s a celebration.”

After a tight 69-63 win over France in a second-round game, Team USA dominated the championship, especially in the second half. Team USA outscored France 34-8 in the second half, including 14-2 in the fourth quarter.

Team USA held France to 21.7 percent shooting, forced 24 turnovers and won the rebounding battle 48-33. They also held France to two assists.

“Obviously we had to grind it out on the offensive end,” USA coach Katie Meier said. “At halftime we talked about our defense. They had only scored 20 points and that was huge for us. So, we just said that when push comes to shove, you win championships with your defense, so go out there and lock down and stay together as a team. That was just an amazing performance.”

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Comments » 5

snowpeapod#263184 writes:

Congratulations are in order for a great effort with positive results. Now on a personal side, I hope she made a positive impact on a couple of high school girls on the team. We can never have enough super players wearing orange.

SummittsCourt writes:

Great job by all, but special congrats to Bashaara for her efforts.

Count this year.
Lady Vols 2 Gold medals in Basketball
Vols 1 Gold medal in Basketball

Way to represent!

madrigal writes:

Offense scores points. Defense wins games. France was restricted to 8 points in the second half. I'm glad Bashaara had such a productive series with the US team, but I would bet a lot of what she did will not show up on a stat sheet. Can't wait to see her back here!

johnlg00 writes:

Congrats to Bashaara! Great job! I join others in hoping that she talked up the LVs to some of her teammates, and if so, that it will work!

ps11824 writes:

Way to represent, Bashaara, The USA and The Lady Vols!

Looking forward to seeing a great leader in Orange this coming season. Building on her skills and experience of last season and the FIBA series, BG should be a contender for one of our most outstanding Lady Vols. Gets me excited about November 2013. Seems like forever ago since Louisville Letdown.

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