USA Women's U18 Team Cruises Past Canada 95-46, Into Gold Medal Game
-- Breanna Stewart, Morgan Tuck Combine For 42 Points --
Gurabo, Puerto Rico • Aug. 18, 2012
A pair of USA Basketball veterans, Breanna Stewart (Cicero-North H.S. / North Syracuse, N.Y.) and Morgan Tuck (Bolingbrook H.S./ Bolingbrook, Ill.), combined for 42 points and 11 rebounds to leadthe 2012 USA U18 National Team (4-0) to a 95-46 victory over Canada (2-2) in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship semifinal game on Saturday night in Gurabo, Puerto Rico. Advancing to the championship game for the ninth time in as many U18 tournaments, the U.S. will face also undefeated Brazil (4-0) for the gold medal on Aug. 19 at 8:15 p.m. (all times EDT).
Since its inception in 1988, the American women have claimed six gold medals (1988, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010) and two silver medals (1992, 1996), are now 42-2 all-time at this event, and are one win away from collecting a sixth consecutive U18 gold medal.
Canada will play Argentina (2-2), which fell to Brazil 67-54 in the evening’s first semifinal, for the bronze medal on Sunday at 6:00 p.m.
“I felt like every game we’ve seen another level from our team, some new type of focus or some nuance that they finally get or a concept that they apply,” said Katie Meier, USA U18 National Team and University of Miami head coach. “That’s what’s been really fun about coaching this team. When you don’t practice together all year, you learn a lot about them through game play versus practice. This is the second game in a row where we’ve made adjustments at halftime that we’ve never talked about before and then they go out and apply it.”
Tuck, a gold medalist at the 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship and 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship, shot 9-of-12 and led the way with 22 points; while Stewart, a teammate of Tuck’s on both the U17 and U19 teams, shot 8-of-11 from the floor and 2-of-3 from 3-point and finished with 20 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Also scoring in double digits were Bashaara Graves (Clarksville H.S. / Clarksville, Tenn.) with 14 points on 7-of-8 from the floor and Michaela Mabrey (Manasquan H.S. / Belmar, N.J.), who hit 3-of-7 from 3-point and had 13 points, six rebounds, five assists and a pair of steals.
“I think it was the first game that those two together really took a game over,” said Meier. “They do it in so many different ways. At the end of the game we had Stewie at the two and Tuck at the three, with Bashaara (Graves) and Candice (Agee) inside. We were just huge. They just say, ‘okay,’ and adjust and adapt and fill in for you. They did a fantastic job. Those two players are as special as they come.”
“I was just waiting to let the game come to me,” said Stewart, who contributed 16 points by halftime. “I talked to coach before the game at shoot around and she was like ‘I have a feeling that tonight you’re just going to go off.’ Did I go off? I don’t know, but I was just doing what I do on the court and having fun while I was doing it.”
Canada led 4-2 early in the contest, but Stewart evened the score at 8:02 and followed with a pair of free throws at 7:06 to put her side up 6-4 and the U.S. never again trailed. In fact, her four points sparked a 16-1 run that ended on a Tuck bucket at 2:56 with the U.S. up 18-5. Canada countered with a 3-pointer to pull the game back to a 10-point difference, 18-8. However, Canada simply had no answer for the USA’s defense, which powered the high-octane U.S. offense that strung together six points to end the quarter up 24-8.
The unanswered run continued into the second quarter with 12 consecutive points and with 5:59 to go before halftime, the U.S. was well in command, 36-8.
In all, Canada was held to four field goals in the second quarter, all of which were 3-pointers, and the teams retired to their respective locker rooms with the United States up 53-20.
“Our goals were to limit them on offense, definitely focus on our defense, because that’s what fuels our offense,” said Tuck, who had 16 points in the first half. “We wanted to get transition points, points in the paint, outside-inside hitting shots. I think we did that pretty well. Of course we have to limit the threes that we’re giving up. That’s one thing we really have to work on for tomorrow.”
The USA’s stifling defense in the first half alone forced Canada shooting just 26.9 percent (7-26 FGs) from the field, while its offense connected on a sizzling 62.2 percent (23-37 FGs) of its field goals. Additionally, the USA scored 19 points off of 10 Canada turnovers, while only coughing up the ball once in the half.
The pace didn’t slow down in the third quarter as the USA outscored its neighbor to the north 22-11 in the stanza. The U.S. eased up and won the fourth quarter 20-15 to bring the score to its final of 95-46.
The USA’s defense by the end of the game had forced Canada into 22 turnovers and its offense capitalized by collecting 32 points off of turnovers. In contrast, the USA’s seven turnovers led to zero points on the other end.
The U.S. outrebounded Canada 44-27, outscored Canada 58-18 in the paint and 40-2 on the fast break.
Further, the USA closed the game shooting 57.1 percent from the field, while limiting Canada to 29.8 percent. However, the USA’s defense allowed Canada to shoot 50.0 percent (8-16 3pt FGs) from outside the arc.
“I thought we played very well together as a team,” said Lexie Brown (North Gwinnett H.S. / Suwanee, Ga.), who five points, five rebounds and sic of the USA’s 23 assists. “(Our) coaches gave us goals and we got all of them, unlike yesterday. Today we really buckled down on defense and pulled out a big win. Actually, we did miss one goal. It was to limit their 3-pointers, which clearly we did not do.”
Jannah Tucker (New Town H.S. / Randallstown, Md.) went down with an injury to her left knee early in the USA’s Aug. 16 game and will not compete for the remainder of the tournament.
In other games today, Colombia (2-2) captured its second win, 70-45 over Mexico (0-4), while Puerto Rico (2-2) dominated Dominican Republic (0-4) 68-35.
Mexico will face Dominican Republic for seventh place, while Colombia and host Puerto Rico will square off to determine fifth place.
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 is providing live streaming and live online statistics for all four games each day.