USA Races To 99-26 Victory Over Dominican Republic In FIBA Americas U18 Championship Opener
-- Morgan Tuck Leads With 23 Points, Michaela Mabrey Dishes Out USA U18 Record 10 Assists --
Gurabo, Puerto Rico Aug. 15, 2012
Following a close first quarter, the 2012 USA Basketball Wome's U18 National Team scored the first 31 points of the second quarter and ran away with an eventual 99-26 victory over the Dominican Republic (0-1) to open 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship play on Wednesday afternoon in Gurabo, Puerto Rico.
All 10 U.S. players scored no less than five points each, including a game-best 23 points from Morgan Tuck (Bolingbrook H.S./ Bolingbrook, Ill.), while Michaela Mabrey (Manasquan H.S. / Belmar, N.J.) dished out a USA U18 single-game record 10 assists to go with her nine points and four blocked shots.
"Michaela Mabrey did a great job of filling in," said Katie Meier, USA U18 National Team and University of Miami head coach. "She played three different positions for us, shared the basketball, had her head up the whole game. She really did a nice job of keeping our tempo up with the pass instead of the dribble."
"I think it was just that we play together as a team and running the floor, it just comes sometimes," said Tuck about her scoring production. "When everyone's playing as a team and you're there to get some layups, they give it to you in the right spot. When you have people not being selfish and letting the game flow, I think that's what happened."
In addition to Tuck and Mabrey, the USA's efforts were aided by 14 points and three blocked shots from Breanna Stewart (Cicero-North H.S. / North Syracuse, N.Y.), Candice Agee (Silverado H.S./Victorville, Calif.) contributed 11 points and four rebounds, Alexis Prince (Edgewater / Orlando, Fla.) recorded nine points and eight boards, Moriah Jefferson (Texas Home Educators Sports Association / Glenn Heights, Texas) and Jannah Tucker (New Town H.S. / Randallstown, Md.) scored eight apiece, Lexie Brown (North Gwinnett H.S. / Suwanee, Ga.) chipped in six points, Bashaara Graves (Clarksville H.S. / Clarksville, Tenn.) added six points and grabbed a game-best nine boards, while Kendall Cooper (St. Anthony H.S. / Carson, Calif.) had five points, five rebounds and three blocked shots.
The previous USA assist record was nine, held by both Candace Parker (2004, versus Bolivia) and Khadijah Rushdan (2006, versus Brazil). Tuck's 23 points came on 8-of-11 shooting from the field and a perfect 7-of-7 from the line, which tied the prior USA single-game record set by Candice Wiggins in 2004 against Puerto Rico. Additionally, the squad eclipsed the previous USA team single-game record for blocked shots with 16, as the record was 11 set in 2004 versus Puerto Rico.
"I could't do it without my teammates," said Mabrey. "I was't really hitting any shots, so when that happens I look to pass. I'm more of a pass-first person. That's my type of game, so that's where those assists came from."
The U.S. scored first on a pair of free throws from Tucker and never trailed. However, the Dominican Republic knotted the score five times in the first period, the final time was with 17 seconds remaining to bring the score to 13-all. Graves converted an offensive rebound to put the United States in the lead for good, 15-13, with 5.7 ticks on the first-quarter clock.
"I think we were just really nervous in the beginning," added Mabrey. "People were dropping the balls. Then we all got together and we were just like, "just play. We're here, let's just play.' I think that got to everyone and we picked it up from there."
Regrouping between periods, Graves scored 10 seconds into the second quarter and Tuck followed with six straight points, including four from the line, and the North Americans were off and running. Whereas the U.S. was outscored 6-5 on the fast break in the first quarter and scored two points off of five turnovers in the first period, the second stanza saw the USA outscore the Dominicans 10-2 on the fast break and record 10 points from 10 turnovers in the second quarter.
Further, the U.S. stepped up its shooting from the first to the second period. After hitting just 28.6 percent (6-21 FGs) from the field in the opening 10 minutes, the red, white and blue shot a sizzling 61.1 percent (11-18 FGs) in the next 10 minutes.
With the game well in hand 46-17 at halftime, the USA outscored its opponents 33-5 in the third quarter and 20-4 in the fourth. Up 83-26 with 7:19 to play, the USA reeled off 16 straight points for the final and its largest lead of the game for the 73-point victory.
In all the USA outrebounded its opponents 53-35, recorded 26 points off of 25 turnovers, outscored Dominican Republic 60-14 in the paint, 18-1 on second-chance points, 39-8 on the fast break and 46-6 in bench production. The U.S. ended the game shooting 52.8 percent (38-72 FGs), while limiting their opponent to just 15.0 percent (9-60 FGs). The U.S. also dished out 26 assists on its 38 field goals as every member of the team passed off for no less than one each.
"What we really wanted was 65 percent of our field goals assisted," said Meier.οΏ½ "What that means is we need to settle down and share the ball, make sure we're making that extra pass. For a team that did't know each other five months ago to get together and have 26 assists on 38 field goals, that's somewhere in that (65 percent) range. That's really impressive for the first time putting this uniform on."
The USA will next face Argentina (1-0) on Aug. 16 at 3:45 p.m. (all times EDT) and Colombia (0-1) on Aug. 17 at 3:45 p.m. to wrap up preliminary pool play. The top two teams from each preliminary round group will be seeded and advance to the medal semifinals on Aug. 18. Winners of the semifinals will compete in the gold medal game to be played on Aug. 19.
In other games today, Argentina defeated Colombia 56-46, while Canada and Brazil are set to square off at 6:00 p.m. and host Puerto Rico takes on Mexico at 8:15 p.m.
Meier is assisted by collegiate head coaches Nikki Caldwell of Louisiana State University and Kelly Graves of Gonzaga University.
The FIBA Americas U18 Championship, featuring teams from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean, is a zone-qualifying tournament for the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship. The top four finishing teams will earn a berth to the 2013 U19 Worlds. The U.S. owns an overall 39-2 record and has claimed six gold medals and two silver medals in the eight previous FIBA Americas U18 Championships, which have been held since 1988. Originally dubbed the Junior World Championship Qualifying Tournament and held every four years from 1988 through 2004, the tournament is now held every other year.
Fans will be able to catch all the action online as FIBAAmericas.com will provide live streaming and live online statistics for all four games each day.