WBB Summer Round Up: Deacs Shine in International Play
Sept. 6, 2017
Three members of the Wake Forest women’s basketball team had a chance to trade in their black and gold uniforms this summer in favor of their national colors. Elisa Penna, Alex Sharp and Ivana Raca all spent time this past summer.
Penna, a rising junior, made her first-ever appearance for the Italian national team this past summer as Italy competed in the FIBA Eurobasket Women 2017 tournament, held in the Czech Republic. Penna had previously been a mainstay on the Italian junior national teams and had helped her squads at the European Championships to a bronze medal in 2011 (U16), a silver medal in 2013 (U20) and was named one of the best starting five players of the 2014 U20 European Championships. Penna also participated in the U17 World Championships in 2012, helping lead her team to sixth-place finish.
This summer, Penna was one of 18 players named to the national team, which was ultimately cut down to the final 12 for Eurobasket Women 2017. The native of Bergamo, Italy, made the cut and made her senior national team debut against Belarus in the opening round of the group phase.
Over the course of seven games played in the event, Penna averaged 3.6 points and 2.9 rebounds per game while playing 13.5 minutes a contest. In her final game of the tournament, Penna had her highest scoring game of the tournament with nine points on 4-of-6 shooting while adding four rebounds in a 71-54 victory over the Slovak Republic. She also added five rebounds against Latvia, the highest output of the tournament for Penna.
Sharp enters her sophomore season on the heels of a freshman campaign in which she earned ACC All-Freshman Team honors. This summer, Sharp traveled to Chinese Taipei to compete in the World University Games, an international multi-sport event organized for university athletes. Sharp part of the Australia squad that finished the tournament with a 5-1 record, including an 85-78 victory over Japan in the Gold Medal Game.
The victory was just the second gold medal for the Emerging Opals in the history of the tournament, having also won the event in 2007. Australia advanced out of the group stage with victories over Lithuania and Argentina and a narrow defeat to Russia. During the group stage, Sharp combined to score nine points and bring in six rebounds.
During the knockout stage, Sharp added two points and a rebound in a victory over the United States and capped off the tournament with a pair of rebounds in the championship game against Japan.
Raca helped Serbia’s U20 team to a silver medal at the U18 Women’s European Championships, as the 6’2” forward averaged 9.6 points and 5 rebounds per game while playing 23.5 minutes per game. For the tournament, Raca shot 47.1 percent from the field and 51.4 percent from two-point range.
Raca opened the tournament with nine points and five rebounds against Croatia and followed it up with six points and seven rebounds against Spain. The incoming freshman closed out the group phase with nine points against Sweden.
In the quarterfinals against Slovenia, Raca had her best game of the tournament, finishing with 16 points eight rebounds in 31 minutes of play. The eight rebounds and 31 minutes were tournament-bests for Raca, who was 7-of-9 from the field and added two steals and two assists in the victory.
Raca closed out the tournament with a game-high 18 points in Serbia’s defeat to Belgium in the finals. Trailing by 17 points at halftime, Raca led the second-half comeback attempt, pulling Serbia within two as the final horn sounded. She ended the game with six rebounds, two steals, two blocks and a plus-24 player efficiency.
All three players will be part of the Wake Forest women’s basketball team that returns 80.8 percent of its scoring from a season ago as well as its top three scorers in Penna (13.4 ppg), Ariel Stephenson (13.1) and Amber Campbell (11.9). In addition to Raca, Wake Forest will welcome Gina Conti and Maya Banks to the team in 2017-18. Conti, a four-start recruit out of Grove City, Ohio, comes to Wake Forest as the No. 97 recruit nationally and the No. 22 guard in the country according to Prospect Nation. Banks, a native of Chandler, Arizona, was ranked as the No. 151 prospect in the nation by Blue Star Basketball.
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