USA team

Mississippi State, playing as USA Team, chases World University Games basketball gold today in Italy.

Mississippi State’s women will go for the gold today at the World University Games.

Playing in Italy as USA Team, a roster of past, present and future MSU basketball players will take on defending champion Australia today at 1 p.m. CDT.

“There are people in this profession and players who play their whole career that don’t get this kind of opportunity,” said MSU’s Vic Schaefer, head coach of USA Team. “I’m really happy for our players.”

The red, white and blue Bulldogs defeated Japan 89-84 on Monday to reach the gold medal game, while the Aussies defeated Portugal 56-49.

USA Team is 5-0 in Naples, needing big rallies against Japan and in the quarterfinals against China to advance. Schaefer’s squad outscored those opponents a combined 41-22 in the fourth quarter to reach the championship game.

It’s been a coming-out party for 6-foot-2 McDonald’s All-American Rickea Jackson, who’s averaging 23 points a game to lead the USA.

The incoming freshman broke out with 35 points in a pool-play victory against Chinese Taipei and has averaged 27 points and 9.5 rebounds in her last two games.

Jessika Carter, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, is averaging 10.4 points and 9 rebounds but was absolutely dominant with 26 points and 22 rebounds against Taipei.

USA Team has outrebounded its last two opponents 94-66, going plus-20 on the offensive glass.

Today’s game will be the last time for Schaefer to send former Bulldogs guard Jazzmun Holmes of Gulfport onto the floor.

“She is the best that I think I have ever coached at the point guard spot,” he said. “I’m going to really look forward to coaching her one more time.

“She’s done a great job with this team. I know she will play her heart out and lead this team to what will hopefully be a gold medal.”

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