USA U17 Women Battle Belgium For 80-50 Win
- Rebecca Greenwell Leads USA With 17 Points, While Linnae Harper Sparks USA With U.S. U17 Record Seven Steals -
Amsterdam, the Netherlands • Aug. 21, 2012
After Belgium (2-2) fought back to within eight points in the third quarter, the USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Championship Team (4-0) responded with an 11-4 run to close the period with a 15-point lead and the game’s momentum on its way to an 80-50 win in the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship on Tuesday afternoon at Sporthallen Zuid in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
The victory clinches the No. 1 seed out of preliminary round Group A for the USA, regardless of the outcome its final preliminary round contest against Mali at 10 a.m. (4 a.m.) on Aug. 22.
“I was pleased with our effort,” said USA head coach Jill Rankin Schneider (Monterey H.S., Texas). “It wasn't a surprise that Belgium came out and played hard, and they played well. Throughout the first half and into the third quarter, we just kept needing some little spark that would give us some energy, and Linnae Harper in particular came out in the third quarter and really dominated things defensively and helped us create some opportunities that we were able to build on. We won by 30 points, but it felt like it was a struggle.”
Rebecca Greenwell (Owensboro Catholic H.S./Owensboro, Ky.) compiled 17 points, while Diamond DeShields (Norcross H.S./Norcross, Ga.) finished with a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double. Kaela Davis (Buford H.S./Suwanee, Ga.) was a USA U17 record 2-of-2 from 3-point on her way to 12 points, while Linnae Harper (Whitney Young H.S./Chicago, Ill.) grabbed a USA U17 high of seven steals to go with seven points and four assists. Additionally, the USA was 7-of-11 from 3-point to set the team record for 3-point percentage at 63.6 percent. All of the previous highs were established in the inaguraul even in 2010.
“It was another slow start, which is not very pleasing,” DeShields said. “But overall, we ended up pulling it together. Linnae Harper was the star of the game, especially in the second half. She gave us the momentum to extend the lead and finally put the game out of reach.”
With a 3-pointer and a three-point play, Belgium jumped to a 6-0 lead before Greenwell scored for the USA at 8:47. Belgium took its largest lead of the game, 9-2, with another three at 8:28. Each team scored once more before the USA strung together six unanswered points to come with two points, 12-10, and the USA tied the score 12-12 with two points from Davis at 3:38. Belgium sank one more 3-pointer before the USA closed the period with a 7-0 run to take its first lead off of a three from Davis at 1:51 and then a 19-15 advantage after the first quarter.
“We were ready for a good game, and we know we are going to get everyone's best,” Davis said. “We did get out to a slow start, but they are a skilled team. I think we just have to come out with the mindset that we are going to get everyone's best game, and we need to play like it.”
Davis and then Greenwell opened the second stanza with 3-pointers to help put the USA on top 25-17 at 9:11. Belgium managed just three free throws over the next seven minutes, while the USA raced to 12 points to lead 37-20 when Brianna Turner (Manvel H.S./Pearland, Texas) scored at 2:15. Each team sank another 3-pointer and Belgium added a free throw to head to the halftime locker room with the USA leading 40-24.
Belgium put the first points off the second half on the board and then outscored the USA 15-7 over the next 5:16 to cut the deficit to eight points, 47-39 at 4:44 and force a U.S. timeout. The break worked for the Americans, which closed on an 11-4 run, sparked by Harper, to lead 58-43 after three quarters.
“I think we just found some intensity” Harper said of the USA’s third quarter run. “The first half we were lackadaisical, but I think the second half we picked it up, hustled and did the little things. Up to that point, they had outrebounded us and got every loose ball. So, I think we tried to something different. In the third quarter, I just tried to bring a spark and do what the team wasn't doing, and that helped us expand our lead.”
The USA was off and running by the fourth quarter, scoring 14 unanswered points to lead 72-43 with a score from Mercedes Russell (Springfield H.S./Springfield, Ore.) at 6:38. Belgium ended its drought at 6:18, but managed just seven points in the period as the USA recorded an 80-50 win.
Overall, the USA forced 22 turnovers, which it converted into 23 points, compared to Belgium’s five points off of turnovers. The USA’s size advantage also was apparent in its 40 points on the paint, where Belgium scored just 14.
Manon Grzesinski scored 10 points for Belgium.
Also today in Group A, Italy (3-1) beat South Korea (1-3) 79-53 and Canada (2-2) won against Mali (0-4) 77-42.
In Group B, Japan (4-0) edged Spain (3-1), while the Netherlands (2-1) will take on Brazil (0-3) at 7 p.m. (1 p.m. EDT) and Turkey (0-3) plays Australia (1-2) at 9:15 p.m. (3:15 p.m.).
The top four finishing teams from each preliminary round group advance to the medal quarterfinals on Aug. 24. Winners of the quarterfinals compete in the semifinals on Aug. 25, and the gold medal game will be played on Aug. 26.
Schneider is assisted on the U.S. sideline 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.