SIBENIK, CROATIA – Rutgers rising junior Cappie Pondexter (Chicago, IL) helped the U.S. defeat the Czech Republic 94-46 in pool play at the FIBA World Championship for Young Women July 29 in Sibenik, Croatia.
Pondexter, a 5-9 guard and one of the Americans’ co-captains, had one assist and a steal, playing just 19 minutes in the blow-out victory. The Americans’ fourth game in pool play, the victory against the Czech Republic was especially sweet for Pondexter and Duke’s Alana Beard, who were eliminated from gold-medal contention at the 2001 FIBA Junior World Championship by a semifinal loss to the Czechs.
“Before the game I talked to Alana and told her that this game should mean a lot to us, more than everybody else,” Pondexter said. “We took this game personally. It meant a lot to us because two years ago they beat us to go to the gold-medal game. It’s something we’ve had on our chests for two years, and we finally got it off.”
The Americans, the champion of the FIBA Americas Region, have assured themselves a spot in the medal quarterfinals. The U.S. (3-1), tied for first place with Brazil (3-1) in Pool A, will play its final pool game Wednesday, July 30, against host nation Croatia at 9:00 p.m. The medal-round games begin Aug. 1, culminating in the gold-medal game Aug. 3. All times are local to Croatia, and are five hours earlier than the Eastern Time Zone.
The most experienced member of this year’s American team, Pondexter is spending her fourth consecutive summer as a member of the USA Basketball squad. As a co-captain and the team’s starting point guard last year, she helped lead the U.S. to the gold medal at the 2002 World Championship For Young Women Qualifying Tournament in Ribeirao Preto, Brazil. She led the tournament with 6.5 assists per game, adding 8.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per contest. She won a bronze medal as a member of the 2001 U.S. Junior National Team which competed at the FIBA World Junior Championships in Prague, Czech Republic. Following her junior season at John Marshall High School, Pondexter was named to the 2000 U.S. Junior World Championship Qualifying Team, helping the Americans win a gold medal in Mardelplata, Argentina.
Pondexter led Rutgers with 18.3 points and 4.9 assists per game during her rookie campaign, adding 5.1 rebounds per contest to rank second for the Scarlet Knights. An honorable-mention Associated Press and Kodak/WBCA All-American as well as the 2003 BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, she also was the first rookie in conference history to earn a spot on the All-BIG EAST First Team. One of 12 finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award, which honors the top point guard in Division I women’s basketball, Pondexter also was a member of the BIG EAST All-Tournament Team.
The Scarlet Knights, led by Pondexter, engineered the most dramatic turnaround in Division I this past season, improving from 9-20 in 2001-2002 to 21-8 and a trip to the 2003 NCAA Tournament’s second round.