USA U17 Women’s World Championship Team Falls To Australia, 64-58, In Exhibition Play
July 10, 2010 • Alagon, Spain
After shooting just 3-of-15 from the field (20.0 percent) in the first quarter, the 2010 USA U17 Women's World Championship Team (1-1) found itself in a deep hole against Australia (2-0) and never was able to recover, losing 64-58 in exhibition play on July 10 in Alagon, Spain.
The USA, which trailed 25-8 after the first 10 minutes, fought back and tied the game twice in the third period but never led in the contest.
"We've been talking to our girls about being ready taking care of your business, and we haven't felt like we've done that," said Barbara Nelson, USA U17 and Wingate University head coach. "We had a lot of unforced turnovers, a lot of poor passes and decision making, and I think Australia showed up ready to play. The best team tonight won, and we need to show up and play as the best team the next time we step on the court."
Australia extended its lead to its widest margin of the night, 27-8, with the first bucket of the second period, but Elizabeth Williams (Princess Anne H.S./Virginia Beach, Va.) scored on an offensive bucket that ignited a 10-2 run that included 3-pointers from Betnijah Laney (Smyrna H.S./Clayton, Del.) and Kaleena Lewis (Mater Dei H.S./Anaheim, Calif) and cut the deficit to 29-20 at 7:09. The teams traded baskets until Williams was fouled on another offensive board and made one-of-two free throws to ignite a 7-0 spurt to end the first half with the USA down by just two points, 37-35.
"Australia is definitely the toughest inside team we have faced," Williams said. "Even their guards played big, and their post players were really strong. They were wide bodies.
"Our field goal percentage was really low, and we missed a lot of easy shots," Williams continued. "Defensively, we held them, we just couldn't seem to get a run going. I think if we would have come out more prepared early in the game, I think that would have helped us out a lot."
Both teams struggled to score in the third period and Australia held a 45-41 advantage with 1:35 remaining. That was as close as the USA would get for the remainder of the game.
A three-quarter's court shot from Australia's Aimie Clydescale to just beat the third-quarter buzzer gave the Aussies a 48-41 lead and the game's momentum. Over the final 1:35 of the third and into the first two minutes of the final stanza, Australia held the USA scoreless while it tacked on nine points, including the buzzer-beater, and the USA trailed 52-41 with 7:40 remaining in the game.
Cierra Burdick (Butler H.S./Matthews, N.C.), Ariel Massengale (Bolingbrook H.S./Bolingbrook, Ill.) and Breanna Stewart (Cicero North Syracuse H.S./North Syracuse, N.Y.) combined for nine points over the next two minutes to cut the lead to 56-48 on a Burdick made free throw at 5:41, but Australia had an answer for every U.S. score down the stretch, including making 4-of-6 free throws.
With Australia leading 64-55, Massengale hit a 3-pointer with 13.5 seconds remaining, but time had run out on the USA's comeback hopes, and the scoreboard read 64-58 in Australia's advantage as the buzzer sounded.
"I think it was a lesson learned," Massengale said. "Last year (at the U16 qualifier) we basically had easy games all the time, and we didn't have anything that pushed us or made us work hard. But I think it's a good thing this happened in a practice game and not in the world championships next week."
Despite forcing 28 Aussie turnovers, the USA shot a paltry 23-of-75 from the field (30.7 percent), was outrebounded by Australia 43-40 and fouled 20 times to Australia's 10 on the night.
Williams finished with 13 points and nine rebounds, and Burdick added 12 points and eight boards.
Australia, which shot 25-of-51 from the field overall (49.0 percent) and a sizzling 10-of-11 (90.9 percent) in the first quarter, was led by 16 points from Greetel Tippett, who fouled out with 5:25 left in the fourth period.
"We can use this loss to learn from because it doesn't count," Jordan Adams (Mater Dei H.S./Irvine, Calif.). "Of course, games always count, but this doesn't cost us in the world championships, obviously. It's definitely a learning experience to see our weaknesses, and Australia did a good job. They exposed our weaknesses tonight."
Following one more exhibition game in Alagon, Spain, against Spain at 6 p.m. on July 11 (all times are CEST, which is +6 from EDT), the USA will travel to Rodez, France, where it will begin preliminary round play of the inaugural FIBA U17 World Championship on July 16.
"We've asked the team to evaluate their play tonight, evaluate their lack of focus, their lack of being ready, their lack of toughness, and in the morning we will show up and get back to work and try to get better tomorrow against Spain," Nelson said.
The United States was drawn into Preliminary Round Group A for the 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship, along with host country France, Canada, Japan, Russia and Turkey. Competing in Preliminary Round Group B will be Argentina, Australia, Belgium, China, Mali and Spain.
The USA will open play on July 16 against tournament host France at 8:30 p.m. (all times CEST) followed by Russia at 5:30 p.m. on July 17 and Canada at 3:00 p.m. on July 18. Following a day off on July 19, the USA will wrap up preliminary round play against Turkey at 5:30 p.m. on July 20 and Japan at 5:30 p.m. on July 21.
The top four finishing teams from each preliminary round group advance to the medal quarterfinals, scheduled for July 23, the semifinals are slated for July 24 and the gold and bronze medal games will be contested July 25.
Nelson is assisted by Mike
Armstrong of Perry Meridian High School (Ind.) and Dorena Bingham
of Team Alaska AAU.