USA U17 Women Fight Off China 97-74, Advance To Gold Medal Game
July 24, 2010 • Toulouse, France
The 2010 USA Women's U17 World Championship Team (7-0) needed nearly all 40 minutes to pull away from China (5-2) and secure a 97-74 win in the semifinals of the inaugural 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship on July 24 in Toulouse, France.
Leading 73-66 after the third period, a 24-8 advantage in the fourth quarter helped the USA distance itself from a resilient Chinese team and advance to the gold medal game, where it will face the host country, France (5-2), at 5:30 p.m. (11:30 a.m. EDT) on July 25. China and Belgium (5-2) will compete for the bronze medal after Belgium lost 59-49 to France in today's late game.
"China is a very good team," said Barbara Nelson, USA U17 and Wingate University head coach. "They are an extremely good-shooting team. We looked at the percentages of who was leading of 3-point shooting and also free throw percentage and points scored, and China was very high in all of those categories I'm proud of our kids. I thought they played very hard, and they adjusted to a perimeter game very well.
"We're very excited, extremely excited to be in the gold medal game," Nelson added.
Ariel Massengale (Bolingbrook H.S./Bolingbrook, Ill.) led the USA with 22 points, six rebounds and six assists, followed by 17 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks from Breanna Stewart (Cicero North Syracuse H.S./North Syracuse, N.Y.) and 14 points, 11 rebounds and three assists from Elizabeth Williams (Princess Anne H.S./Virginia Beach, Va.).
"I think it was a solid win for us just because it took a total team effort," Williams said. "We knew it was going to be a tough game, and I think mentally we were just really tough, especially during those stretches were they had runs. I think overall, it was a good game for us."
While the USA went to work pushing the tempo and pounding the ball inside in the first half, including 12 points from Williams, 11 from Massengale and nine from Stewart, China was red-hot from the outside, shooting 11-of-23 (47.8 percent) from 3-point to trail the USA by just six points, 54-48 at halftime.
The USA opened the second half with a 9-0 run to stretch its advantage to 63-48 on a bucket from Stewart at 8:15, but once again, China responded. With two more 3-pointers and two three-point plays, China outscored the USA 18-10 over the quarter's last eight minutes to pull within seven, 73-66, headed into the final stanza.
The fourth quarter starred the USA's defense, with the Americans limiting China to 3-of-22 shooting from the field in the fourth, including 1-of-12 from 3-point. Meanwhile, spurred on by 11 fourth-quarter points from Massengale and five from Jewell Loyd (Lincolnwood, Ill.), the USA offense compiled 24 points to finally put China away.
With the USA ahead by nine, 81-72, a steal and fastbreak layup by Massengale at 5:27 was the start of a 16-2 U.S. run that ended the game with the USA leading by 23 points, its largest margin of the game, 97-74.
"China is a very, very good team," Massengale said. "This game was a lot of fun to play in. It was very physical, and we had to play hard for 40 minutes, and they did as well. They are a great team. Their outside shooting was going, and it was something that we hadn't seen in this tournament, but I think our teammates and I adjusted well to it and we competed through adversity."
The USA's once again exploited its size advantage to finish with 52 points in the paint, compared to China's 12, and a 59-33 rebounding advantage. The red, white and blue also raced to 20 fast-break points while holding China to just two.
China's Meng Li, who finished 6-of-12 from beyond the arc, led her team with 22 points.
In today's first two games, Russia (3-4) beat Spain (2-5) 72-52 and Japan (3-4) edged Australia (3-4) 95-92. Spain will now play Australia for seventh place tomorrow at 9:30 a.m., while Russia will face Japan at 12:00 p.m. in the fifth-place game.
Also today in Rodez, France, Canada (2-5) crushed Mali (0-7) 82-48 to finish in 11th place, and Argentina (4-3) beat Turkey (3-4) 62-48 to take 9th place.
"I can't wait for tomorrow's game," Stewart said. "I think are where we want to be. We've grown a lot as a team. It doesn't matter which team we play, we are going to work as hard as we can for that gold medal."
is assisted by Mike Armstrong of Perry Meridian High School (Ind.) and
Dorena Bingham of Team Alaska AAU.