It may be a long way from Cameron Indoor Stadium, but right now two Blue Devils are playing at a level that should inspire confidence in Duke's chances when the college basketball season rolls around in November.
Sophomore Azura Stevens and freshman Angela Salvadores helped send their respective teams safely through preliminary play at the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship in Chekhov, Russia. The Round of 16 will begin Wednesday, with Stevens and the United States taking on Argentina and Salvadores and Spain squaring off against the Netherlands.
In the round robin phase of the tournament, the United States cruised to a 3-0 record as it looks to defend its gold medal. Stevens nearly posted a double-double with 10 points and eight rebounds in Team USA's 104-41 rout of Egypt to clinch the top spot in Group B. The 6-foot-6 forward also chipped in two blocks on the defensive end as the United States tied its own single-game record with nine blocks.
During the opening stage, Stevens has averaged 9.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per contest despite seeing only 13.5 minutes per game on a very talented and deep roster coached by Dawn Staley—the head coach at South Carolina.
Stevens and Salvadores will be teammates in the fall, but the two took the court together for the first time as opponents. The United States defeated Spain 72-57 in the opening game for both teams in what would prove to be the Americans' closest contest so far.
Salvadores was the starting point guard for the the Spanish squad, logging the most minutes of any player on either side. The Leon, Spain, native scored nine points and dished out four assists, but also committed seven turnovers. Stevens played less than 10 minutes in the contest, contributing only three points and one rebound off the bench.
Ranked as the No. 2 point guard and No. 5 overall player in her class by ESPN, Salvadores bounced right back the next day, guiding Spain to a decisive 87-64 win against Egypt. The 5-foot-10 floor general led all scorers with 25 points on 12-of-20 shooting and continued to fill out the boxscore with six rebounds, three assists and and two steals.
The Spanish lost a tough 66-63 contest to China in the final game of the preliminary round, but once again Salvadores proved to be one of the best players on the court—leading Spain in points, rebounds and assists.
The tournament now moves to a single elimination format, with rounds Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday to determine a champion. If both the United States and Spain win their next two games, they will meet for a rematch in the semifinals.
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