June 8, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - For the ninth time in the past six years, a Notre Dame women's basketball player will return to campus with a gold medal, as Fighting Irish junior All-America guard Jewell Loyd (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West) helped the USA Basketball 3x3 National Team to the title at the FIBA 3x3 World Championship on Sunday afternoon in Moscow, Russia.
Playing with three other collegians -- Cierra Burdick (Tennessee), Sara Hammond (Louisville) and Tiffany Mitchell (South Carolina) -- Loyd finished among as the second-leading scorer among all players in the 24-team tournament at a team-high 7.3 points per game, narrowly edged out by Tunisia's Houda Hamrouni (7.6 ppg.) and nosing past Belgium's Ann Wauters (6.9 ppg.), the latter a 6-foot-5 center who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2000 WNBA Draft.
Loyd was particularly sharp during Sunday's medal round games, scoring 10 points in the USA's 18-14 semifinal victory over Belgium, as well as singlehandedly outscoring host Russia in the gold medal game with nine points in a 15-8 win for the Americans.
Loyd also collected an individual bronze medal on Sunday, tying for third in the Skills Challenge that was held in conjunction with the FIBA 3x3 World Championship. The 5-foot-10 Notre Dame wing now has won three international medals, including two gold medals, during her career -- she was a member of the 2010 USA Basketball U17 National Team that won the inaugural FIBA U17 World Championship in Toulouse, France.
"It was great (to win the gold medal)," Loyd said. "Having just four people here on a big stage, it was great to take care of business. (Against Russia) I think we just got to more rebounds and our offense got some easy shots. We had confidence in our shots. Everyone was obviously cheering for Russia, so it was super loud and people were booing. We used that as motivation to stay focused.
"I had a mis-handle (in the Skills Challenge), the ball ran off my hand, and didn't do too well, but I will take it," she added. "Any time you can show your individual skills, it's nice, but I'm more excited about our team medal. Our goal was the team medal, but the skills competition was fun, and I enjoyed it."
USA Basketball now has won both gold medals on the women's side at the FIBA 3x3 World Championship since the tournament debuted in 2012. That summer, former Fighting Irish All-America guard Skylar Diggins ('13) paced the Stars & Stripes to a 9-0 record and the title in Athens, Greece. Like Loyd, Diggins was a double medalist that year, also earning the silver medal in the 3x3 Skills Challenge.
The rules for international 3x3 competition, although a bit more polished, are similar to those seen in pick-up games across the country. Games are 10 minutes in length or the first team to reach 21 points, scoring by ones and twos (a regular field goal is worth one point, a basket from beyond the arc is worth two points). There's also a 12-second shot clock and the team on defense must clear the ball out beyond the arc before beginning its offensive set. The games are officiated by one referee, with teams in the bonus (one free throw) after the seventh team foul, while shooting fouls are awarded one or two free throw attempts based on the location of the shot. A full rundown of the other rules for FIBA 3x3 competition can be found on the official FIBA 3x3 web site at www.fiba.com/3x3.
In addition to being Notre Dame's ninth gold medal in international play since 2008, it's also the 13th gold medal earned by a Fighting Irish on the world stage (12 with USA Basketball, one with Canada Basketball). Notre Dame will have another change to reach the top step of the medal podium later this summer when incoming freshman forward Brianna Turner (Pearland, Texas/Manvel) suits up for the USA Basketball U18 National Team at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship from Aug. 6-10 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Along with her medals, Sunday capped off Loyd's third overseas trip since 2010. She also visited England and Spain with her Notre Dame teammates last August during the program's foreign tour, but did not play in any of the three Fighting Irish exhibition games in Europe due to injury.
"It was great (to play in Russia)," Loyd said. "To come over and see their culture and hear their language, it's exciting. I love traveling the world, and I hope I get the chance to do it again."
Led by Loyd, Notre Dame is expected to return two starters and 10 monogram recipients from its 2013-14 squad that went 37-1, advancing to its fourth consecutive NCAA Women's Final Four and its third NCAA national championship game in four seasons, while also winning the ACC regular season and tournament titles. The Fighting Irish also will welcome a three-player incoming class that has been ranked as high as third in the nation by several national recruiting services, led by Turner, who was the 2014 Gatorade and USA Today National High School Player of the Year, as well as the Most Valuable Player of the McDonald's High School All-America Game.
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-- Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director