USA Women's U18 National Team Bypasses Argentina 68-28
-- Breanna Stewart Posts Game-Highs 17 Points, 12 Rebounds --
Gurabo, Puerto Rico ï¿½ Aug. 16, 2012
Behind game-bests of 17 points and 12 boards from University of Connecticut-bound Breanna Stewart (Cicero-North H.S. / North Syracuse, N.Y.), the 2012 USA Basketball Womenï¿½s U18 National Team (2-0) downed Argentina (1-1) 68-28 on Thursday afternoon in Gurabo, Puerto Rico. The win puts the USA alone atop Group A standings at the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship with one game to go before the medal semifinals.
The well-balanced scoring attack also saw Michaela Mabrey (Manasquan H.S. / Belmar, N.J.), who is headed to University of Notre Dame in the fall, collect 13 points; while Morgan Tuck (Bolingbrook H.S./ Bolingbrook, Ill.), a future UConn teammate of Stewartï¿½s, scored 12.
The USA closes preliminary play against Colombia (1-1) on Aug. 17 at 3:45 p.m. (all times EDT). The top two finishing teams from each pool advance to the Aug. 18 semifinals, while the finals will be held on Aug. 19.
ï¿½Argentina is one of the ball reversal teams in this tournament with a really great pace of play,ï¿½ said Katie Meier, USA U18 National Team and University of Miami head coach. ï¿½We chose to be disruptive and take some risks and we really took a couple things away to see if we could disrupt their offense. Obviously it really did.ï¿½
ï¿½Defense (was our focus),ï¿½ said Kendall Cooper (St. Anthony H.S. / Carson, Calif.), who grabbed seven rebounds and had two points at the line. ï¿½We wanted to try to stop (Victoria Llorente), (Michaela Sol Sancisi) and (Maria Jourdheuil), because they are their strongest players. If we could have stopped them, we could have done anything.ï¿½
The United States received four points from Moriah Jefferson (Texas Home Educators Sports Association / Glenn Heights, Texas) in a 9-0 run to open the game. After her fast-breaking layin at 6:25 to cap the opening spurt, Argentina called for time to regroup. It then outscored the U.S. 6-4 over the ensuing 4:20 to pull to 13-6. However, a jumper from Alexis Prince (Edgewater / Orlando, Fla.) and a 3-pointer from Stewart closed out the first stanza, giving the North Americans an 18-6 advantage.ï¿½ï¿½
Stewart tossed in her second three of the game a minute into the second period and Argentina followed with a driving layup at 8:14 to put the score at 21-8. However, that was as close as the score would get for the remainder of the contest. Mabrey drained a three to spark a 13-0 run in which four U.S. players scored and with 2:52 to play before halftime the game was blown wide open, 34-8. After an Argentine jumper and a U.S. free throw, the red, white and blue retired to the locker room ahead, 35-10.
ï¿½I just wanted to let the game come to me,ï¿½ said Stewart, who had 14 points and seven rebounds at halftime. ï¿½They were pressuring a lot of our players and it left people open. I just got some good looks.ï¿½
Despite outscoring the North Americans 6-2 to close the third period, Argentina never seriously threatened in the second half as the USA went up 52-19 at the end of the third and won the fourth period 16-9.
In addition to the USAï¿½s double-digit scorers, Prince contributed eight points, nine rebounds, two assists and four steals to the winning effort; while Jefferson had six points and dished out six of the USAï¿½s 18 assists.ï¿½
Jannah Tucker (New Town H.S. / Randallstown, Md.) went down with an injury to her left knee early in the game and will be evaluated.
After shooting lights-out in its first game, the USAï¿½s touch cooled to 37.1 percent (26-70 FGs) from the field overall, but netted a red-hot 43.8 percent (7-16 3pt FGs) of its 3-point tries. On the opposite end, its defense held Argentina to an icy 18.0 percent (11-61 FGs) of its field goals overall and an even more frigid 5.9 percent (1-17 3pt FGs) from beyond the arc.ï¿½ Winning the battle of the boards 57-41, the U.S. notched 14 points off 22 turnovers, but allowed Argentina just four points of its 17 miscues. Further, the red, white and blue outscored Argentina 38-16 in the paint, 40-19 off the bench and 39-6 on the fast break.
ï¿½I think we are obviously, with some of the adversity, just playing people out of position,ï¿½ said Meier of the fact that the U.S. was whistled for eight of its 17 fouls in the fourth quarter, in which the USA outscored Argentina by just seven. ï¿½Some of the stuff that weï¿½ve worked on for 10-12 days now, weï¿½re kind of winging it a little bit. I said at one point, ï¿½thank God youï¿½re all versatile players.ï¿½ Itï¿½s a real compliment to the team. Michaela Mabreyï¿½s playing a lot of minutes at the point guard for us right now, and Breanna Stewartï¿½s playing every position on the court. So, as we settle in and get some more stuff on film, I think weï¿½ll clean it up.ï¿½
Argentina had four players notch four points apiece to finish tied as their squadï¿½s high scorers.
In other games today, Colombia defeated Dominican Republic (0-2) 47-40, Brazil (2-0) doubled up on Mexico (0-2) 62-31, while Canada (0-1) meets host Puerto Rico (1-0) at 8:15 p.m.
Meier is assisted by collegiate head coaches Nikki Caldwell of Louisiana State University and Kelly Graves of Gonzaga University.
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.