June 27, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - For the third time in four years, a Notre Dame women's basketball player has helped the United States earn a gold medal in international competition. On Sunday, Fighting Irish incoming freshman guard Kayla McBride (Erie, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) scored seven points, grabbed three rebounds and added two assists and two steals as Team USA defeated Brazil, 81-38, to claim top honors at the FIBA U18 Americas Championship in Colorado Springs, Colo.
"We've been here for three weeks, and knowing that we were all physically and mentally tired coming into this game, I think it really brought us together," McBride said. "To be able to get this gold medal after being here for so long, coming together as a team is just an awesome feeling. It's one of many, like (head coach Jennifer Rizzotti) said in the locker room, and this is only the beginning. We have so much to accomplish and have such bright futures ahead of us. This is just one of many, hopefully, and it's really exciting."
McBride, who started all five games for the Stars & Stripes in the tournament, averaged 8.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game with a .500 field goal percentage (15-for-30) and .846 free throw percentage (11-for-13). She scored in double figures three times, tied for fourth on the team in scoring, and was third in both free throw percentage and steals. In addition, she was a strong ballhandler throughout the tournament with a 1.5 assist/turnover ratio (nine assists, six turnovers), a trait that was never more apparent than in Sunday's gold-medal game against Brazil, when she played 19 turnover-free minutes for a United States side that uncharacteristically gave the ball away 22 times.
By virtue of its top-four finish at the FIBA U18 Americas Championship, the U.S. has qualified for next summer's FIBA U19 World Championship for Women, which will be held in Chile. Rizzotti already has been chosen by USA Basketball to serve as the head coach for that squad.
McBride's gold-medal turn follows on the heels of rising Notre Dame sophomore guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington), who was a co-captain for Team USA on last summer's FIBA U19 World Championship Team that struck gold in Thailand (and was skippered by current Fighting Irish associate coach Carol Owens). Another South Bend-area product, recently-graduated point guard and two-year team tri-captain Melissa Lechlitner (Mishawaka, Ind./South Bend St. Joseph's) also won a gold medal in 2007 with the USA U19 World Championship Team, for which Owens was an assistant coach.
McBride and her fellow Notre Dame freshmen (forwards Natalie Achonwa of Guelph, Ontario, and Ariel Braker of Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.), who collectively were ranked as the No. 8 incoming class in the nation by ESPN Hoopgurlz, will join a cast of eight returning Fighting Irish monogram winners for the 2010-11 season.
For more information on McBride and Team USA at the FIBA U18 Americas Championship, including additional statistics and photos, please visit the USA Basketball web site.