USA Women’s U17 World Championship Team Overcomes Slow Start To Top Italy 86-60
- Italy Scored Game’s First 14 Points Before U.S. Rallied -
Caorle, Italy. • Aug. 12, 2012
The 2012 USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Championship Team (4-0) allowed Italy to score the first 14 points of the game, but outscored the host 30-12 in the second quarter on the way to an 86-60 victory in the final game of the Italy U17 International Invitational on Sunday.
Italy fed off the energy of the crowd to throw the game’s first punch, taking a 14-0 lead in the opening minutes of the first quarter. The U.S. closed the period on an 18-5 run of their own to bring the deficit to just 19-18 after the first quarter.
“I thought Italy came out pumped up and ready to go,” said USA head coach Jill Rankin Schneider (Monterey H.S., Texas). “They really came out and shot the ball well in the first four or five minutes. I didn’t think we came out with a lot of defensive energy. We started the game with a couple quick shots and didn’t hit the boards. It didn’t look like we came out with the intensity that we had yesterday. We eventually got it rolling and turned things around. It’s a little disconcerting because you’d like to think with going into the World Championship this week that we were kind of past some of that. Hopefully it was a little bit of a wake-up call for us to finish here in Italy.”
The game turned around for the U.S. in the second period, as they outscored Italy 30-12 in the stanza to take a 48-31 lead into halftime.
“It was mostly defensive intensity,” said Lindsay Allen (St. John’s College H.S., D.C./Bowie, Md.) of what changed for the U.S. “We really pressured the ball hard. Guards and posts both guarded the ball well, and we were able to get out in our transition break.”
The U.S. led 70-43 headed into the final quarter, where Italy outscored the U.S. 17-16 to reach the final score of 86-60.
Mercedes Russell (Springfield H.S./Springfield, Ore.) scored a game-high 16 points to go with six rebounds, while Taya Reimer (Hamilton Southeastern H.S./Fishers, Ind.) added 11 points. Diamond DeShields (Norcross H.S./Norcross, Ga.), who was named MVP of the Italy U17 International Invitational, led the U.S. with seven rebounds, in addition to scoring eight points. 11 of the 12 players on the U.S. roster registered points in the contest.
“As I find myself saying over and over again, our depth is really such a great asset,” said Schneider. “Our starting lineup didn’t come out initially and set the tempo in terms of what we’d like to have. When we had to go to our bench, those players really gave us a boost and generated that energy and provided the catalyst we like to have off the bench. Everyone kind of fed off of that. We maybe had a little bit of complacency, but at the same time, Italy came out and really hit some tough shots.”
Antonia Peresson led Italy with 13 points, and Elisa Ercoli scored 12.
The U.S. completed exhibition play 4-0, going 3-0 in Italy in addition to defeating Brazil 80-38 on May 31 in Orlando, Fla. Next up for the squad is the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, which will take place Aug. 17-26.
“It helps us learn how to face adversity,” Allen said of what can be taken away from the USA’s slow start. “Playing against Italy in their home gym and with their home crowd is something we’ll have to get used to in Amsterdam.”
The USA has been placed in preliminary round Group A for the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship and will open against South Korea at 9:15 p.m. (3:15 p.m. EDT) on Aug. 17, followed by Canada at 9:15 p.m. (3:15 p.m. EDT) on Aug. 18 and Italy at 4:45 p.m. (10:55 p.m. EDT) on Aug. 19. After a rest day for all teams on Aug. 20, the USA will take on Belgium at 2:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m. EDT) on Aug. 21 and wrap up preliminary round play against Mali at 10 a.m. (4 a.m.) on Aug. 22.
The top four finishing teams from each preliminary round group will advance to the medal quarterfinals on Aug. 24. Winners of the quarterfinals will compete in the medal semifinals on Aug. 25, and the gold medal game will be played on Aug. 26.
Schneider is assisted by Gail Hook (Monarch H.S., Colo.) and Letitia Hughley (Mott C.C., Mich.). The trio helped qualify the USA for the U17 Worlds by virtue of their gold-medal finish at the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.
The USA is the reigning U17 champion for men and women after both teams wrapped up 8-0 records and gold medals at the inaugural events in 2010.