GURABO, Puerto Rico – A successful summer of LSU women’s basketball on the international stage continued the past weekend as head coach Nikki Caldwell and the USA Women’s Basketball U18 National Team swept through the FIBA Americas Championship to claim the gold medal in Puerto Rico.
Caldwell, one of two assistant coaches on the team, became the third LSU woman to earn a gold medal this summer. Former Lady Tiger standouts Seimone Augustus and Sylvia Fowles guided the Americans to a fifth consecutive gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics.
Caldwell was assisting Miami head coach Katie Meyer on a team made up of the country’s most elite under-18 prospects. She was chosen for the prestigious honor by the United States women’s basketball committee.
“It’s a feeling of pure excitement for these ladies because I knew where we were when we first came together,” said Caldwell. “Just to see how they matured and developed in that time to win a gold medal, I am extremely proud of them. This has been a great experience in working with Kelly (Graves) and Katie (Meyer) and learning a lot from them. This has been a very, very special opportunity. This team stayed together, kept their focus and won gold.”
Team USA dominated the competition, recording wire-to-wire wins in its first four games before posting a double-digit comeback against Brazil in the gold medal contest. The Americans trailed 16-7 in the first half but opened up a comfortable margin in the third quarter and finished it off with a 10-0 run in the fourth period for a 71-47 victory.
It represented the sixth consecutive gold medal for the Americans in the FIBA Americas competition. Team USA improved to 43-2 all-time in the event.
Caldwell returned to the United States on Monday to continue preparations for the 2012-13 LSU women’s basketball season. The 10-member group of Lady Tigers began classes for the fall semester on Monday and went through conditioning drills and individual workouts. Practice for the season officially begins on Oct. 2.
Caldwell will make her first public appearance since winning the gold medal at “Mall Ball” on Saturday at the Mall of Louisiana. Caldwell and the Lady Tigers will sign autographs at the center court of the mall beginning at noon Saturday. She then will address the crowd with men’s basketball head coach Johnny Jones at 12:45 p.m.