USA U18 Women Claim Gold Medal With 104-74 Victory Over Canada
Colorado Springs, Colorado
With a commanding 104-74 win over Canada (3-2) that saw the USA (5-0) paced by 25 points and 11 rebounds from tournament MVP A’ja Wilson (Heathwood Hall H.S./ Hopkins, S.C.), the 2014 USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team (5-0) captured the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship gold medal on Sunday evening at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The gold medal was the USA U18 women’s seventh-straight and eighth overall, and the USA women are now 48-2 in FIBA Americas U18 Championship play since the event was first held in 1988. The victory also was the USA’s second win over Canada after handing the Canadians a 107-76 loss on Aug. 8 in the preliminary round.
In the bronze medal game, Argentina (3-2) edged out Brazil (2-3) 69-67. The top four tournament finishers, including the USA, Canada, Argentina and Brazil, qualified for the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship in Russia.
“I thought Canada played extremely well,” said USA head coach Dawn Staley (University of South Carolina). “I just thought overall, over a 40-minute period, I thought we kept fresh legs in there and made them play a little bit quicker than they wanted to play. I thought our players just really, on both sides of the ball, executed the game plan.”
Four additional players reached double-digits in a game that saw the USA take control in the first quarter. Napheesa Collier (Incarnate Word Academy/O’Fallon, Mo.) contributed 18 points and six rebounds; Beatrice Mompremier (Miami H.S./Miami, Fla.) finished with 16 points and eight rebounds; Jessica Shepard (Fremont H.S./Fremont, Neb.) added 14 points and seven rebounds; and Brianna Turner (Manvel H.S/Pearland, Texas) added 12 points.
Additionally, Mariya Moore (Salesian H.S./Richmond, Calif.) dished out seven assists, and Wilson with 11 attempted free throws tied the USA U18 single-game record – a mark that was set by Turner on Aug. 8 and also matched by Shepard on Aug. 9.
“This game was special because it was the gold medal game,” Wilson said. “We took care of business and executed everything. Great things started to happen, and things fell into place. It was a great game.”
Canada scored first in the game, and the teams traded baskets through the first five minutes. The scoreboard read 10-8 in the USA’s favor when Canada made a 3-pointer at 5:24, but then the red, white and blue launched its first run of the game, ignited by two made free throws from Moore. That was the start of a 12-0 stretch that put the USA up 22-8 when Moore dished to Turner at 1:30. Each team scored four more points before the first quarter ended to make it 26-12.
Once again Canada started the stanza by matching nearly each U.S. score through the first few minutes, and thanks in part to two made 3-pointers, Canada trailed 34-23 at 6:07. Shepard scored eight points of her own over the next six minutes as the USA outscored Canada 16-9 to close the first half with a 50-32 lead.
The USA’s highest-scoring period of the game was the third, when the Americans put up 29 points to Canada’s 15 and effectively put the game out of reach. The USA’s largest run of the game, a 14-0 spurt, came in the quarter, as well, and it began with an offensive rebound and score from Collier at 6:54 and ended with a basket from Mompremier at 3:28 to make it 71-40. After eight more U.S. points and seven from Canada, the U.S. lead was 32 points, 79-47, headed into the final 10 minutes.
Canada outscored the USA 27-25 in the fourth quarter as the USA coasted to a 104-74 win.
“It was the most exciting game of my life,” Paris Kea (Greensboro Page H.S./ Greensboro, N.C.) said. “We knew their weaknesses and strengths.”
The USA outrebounded Canada 54-25, including 25 offensive boards that helped the USA tally 62 of its points in the paint compared to Canada’s 14.
Shaylisha Colley led Canada with 16 points.
For the five-game tournament, the USA outscored its opponents by a convincing 44.8 points per game margin, and four U.S. players averaged double-digit scoring, including a USA U18 Women’s competition record 19.0 points per game from Wilson, who also set a USA competition record for field goal percentage with 76.5 percent (39-51 FGs). Collier averaged 14.0 ppg., Turner averaged 13.6 ppg. and Shepard scored 12.6 ppg.
The U.S. team led the eight-team tournament in 13 of 21 team statistical categories, including points per game (106), scoring margin (+44.8), field goal percentage (.574), 3-point field goal percentage (.338), rebounding margin (+28.8), blocks per game (6.0) and assists per game (25.4).
“It’s a great feeling,” Shepard said. “We’ve been here for so long working so hard, and to finally have a reward for all of it is amazing.”
Earlier today, Puerto Rico (3-2) captured fifth place with a 51-49 win over Chile (2-3), who finished in sixth place, and Mexico (2-3) topped El Salvador (0-5) 77-45 to finish in seventh and eighth places, respectively.
Staley, who also will serve this summer as an assistant coach for the 2014 USA Basketball Women’s World Championship Team, was joined on the sideline by USA assistant coaches Kim Barnes Arico (University of Michigan) and Jeff Walz (University of Louisville).