TUNIS, TUNISIA – Rutgers’ Essence Carson (Paterson, NJ) helped the USA Basketball Junior National Team (7-0) move within one win of the gold medal at the FIBA U-19 World Championships with a 99-68 rout of China in the semifinals. The U.S. will meet surprise finalist Serbia & Montenegro (4-3) in Sunday's gold medal game after Serbia surprised Russia 78-65. The USA and Serbia & Montenegro met July 17 in preliminary play and the USA took a 94-68 decision.
Carson started for the seventh consecutive game and contributed six points on three-of-seven shooting. She added two rebound and two assists in her 25 minutes of action. Crystal Langhorne led all scorers with 23 points and five rebounds.
The U-19 National Team has been training continuously since June 28, when the group reconvened in Colorado Springs, CO. The Americans also worked out in Washington, DC, July 3-6, and were in Budapest, Hungary, July 7-11, splitting a pair of games against the Hungarian Junior National Team July 9-10. The team traveled to Tunisia July 12 for two days of training prior to the start of the World Championship.
The Americans hosted the International Sports Invitational June 8-11 in San Diego, using the four games to whittle the 15 finalists for the U-19 World Championship team down to the final 12-member roster. Carson, a 6-0 guard, played in all four games and started twice, averaging 3.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.8 steals in 16.5 minutes per contest. She helped lead the U.S. to the gold medal at the International Sports Invitational, and earned one of the 12 coveted rosters spots for the USA Basketball U-19 World Championship Team.
Carson started 23 of 35 games as a freshman for Rutgers during the 2004-2005 season, ranking fifth for the Scarlet Knights in scoring (6.6 ppg) and second in rebounding (5.5 rpg). A member of the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association (MBWA) All-Second Team, she was named the BIG EAST Conference Freshman of the Week Jan. 10.
Carson helped lead the 2004 U.S. Women’s Junior World Championship Qualifying Team to a gold medal in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, averaging 8.7 points and 3.3 rebounds per game. She also played on the 2003 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival East Team that won a gold medal.
Carson is one of two Scarlet Knights playing for USA Basketball this summer. Fifth-year senior Cappie Pondexter (Chicago, IL) is one of 16 finalists for the USA Basketball World University Games Team. She will travel to Colorado Springs July 28 to rejoin the team as it makes it final roster cuts and prepares for the World University Games in Turkey next month.