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South Carolina senior Tiffany Mitchell leads USA to gold medal

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USA Basketball captured its second 3-on-3 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Championship on June 8, defeating Russia 15-8 in the gold medal game. South Carolina senior guard Tiffany Mitchell led the way for Team USA which finished the event 9-0. Joining Mitchell on the squad were Tennessee senior forward Ciera Burdick, Notre Dame junior guard Jewell Loyd and Louisville senior forward Sara Hammond.

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“We came together,” said Mitchell. “We’ve had to play tough the whole time. A lot of teams played us physical, and I think we stuck together through the adversity. We knew the tough plays were going to come, so we just stayed together and kept our heads.”

In the championship contest, the Americans trailed 1-0 in the first minute before outscoring Russia 7-2 to lead 8-3 at 4:33 when Russia called a timeout. From there, the USA’s lead never diminished.

The loss was Russia’s (8-1) only set back in the tournament.

Team USA also handed Belgium (8-1) its only loss of the competition in the semifinals (18-14), earlier on June 8. Team USA had an early lead on Pool A winner Belgium in the semifinals, but saw the game tied at 13 with just over 30 seconds remaining. Mitchell helped turn the tide, leaping to steal a pass into the post and turning it into a bucket before combining to force another Belgium turnover, which led to another U.S. bucket.

Belgium defeated the Czech Republic (7-2) to win the bronze medal.

After cruising through Pool D – which included Hungary (21-5), Brazil (21-8), Ukraine (21-10), Spain (16-6) and Argentina (21-11), Team USA dispatched Uruguay 19-6. The red, white and blue then eked out a 12-9 victory over France in the quarterfinals.

Loyd took bronze, tying with France’s Fleur Devillers, in the skills competition. The skills contest gold medal went to Italy’s Valentina Baldelli and the silver to Belgium’s Hind Abdelkader .

In addition to the USA team, the women’s field included Andorra, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Romania, host Russia, Spain, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Uganda and Uruguay.

The 2014 edition was just the second FIBA 3x3 World Championship contested with Mitchell and her teammates keeping USA Basketball as the only gold-medal winners at the event. The 2012 gold was won by the quartet of Skylar Diggins (Notre Dame), Bria Hartley (UConn), Chiney Ogwumike (Stanford) and Ann Strother (UConn).

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