Balanced Attack Leads U17 Women Past France
Pilsen, Czech Republic
Taking on a team that had beaten them by six points in an exhibition game exactly one week ago, the 2014 USA Women’s U17 World Championship Team (2-0) members erased all doubt and never trailed as they recorded a convincing 88-40 win over France (1-1) in the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship on Sunday evening at City Arena in Pilsen, Czech Republic.
“I was inspired by their effort and excited that they put together forty minutes of playing to their potential,” said USA head coach Sue Phillips (Archbishop Mitty H.S./San Jose Cagers AAU, Calif.). “France is a very good team, and we caught them on an off night. I thought we just played really well.”
For a second-straight night, Katie Lou Samuelson (Mater Dei H.S./Huntington Beach, Calif.) led all scorers, recording 17 points while shooting 4-of-7 from 3-point. Also reaching double-figures were Asia Durr (St. Pius X Catholic H.S./Douglasville, Ga.) with 14 points and four assists and Kristine Anigwe (Desert Vista H.S./Phoenix, Ariz.) with 10 points. Lauren Cox (Flower Mound H.S./Flower Mound, Texas) was the game’s best rebounder with eight boards to go with her seven points.
“It feels good,” Durr said. “We came out, we fought hard and we played our butts off, and we won by 48 points, so it was a great feeling.”
Eleven U.S. players scored as the USA tallied 16 assists on 32 made baskets. Two more players just barely missed double-digit scoring, including Sabrina Ionescu (Miramonte H.S./Walnut Creek, Calif.) with nine points, four steals and six rebounds and Arike Ogunbowale (Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S./Milwaukee, Wis.) with nine points and three steals.
“As a coach, you can't be more elated than unselfish basketball,” Phillips added. “The players did a great job of rewarding someone who had a blocked shot or a rebound. They made sure they found that teammate with the basketball.”
The USA not only was unselfish on offense, it was stingy on defense, forcing 28 turnovers while allowing France one point in the fourth quarter, zero second-chance points overall and limiting its opponent to 27.5 percent from the field (14-51 FGs). Meanwhile, the USA connected on 46.4 percent (32-69 FGs) of its tries and recorded 42 points in the paint and 25 points off of turnovers.
“The main thing was that we played as a team, and that's what made us win the game,” said Kennedy Burke (Sierra Canyon School/Northridge, Calif.), who finished with eight points, five rebounds and three assists. “Everyone played to their strengths -- all the posts rebounded, and all the guards did their job, so that's what really mattered the most.”
Twice the score was tied as France matched Durr’s opening 3-pointer and a score from Samuelson, and the scoreboard read 5-5 at 7:26 in the first quarter. From there, a 10-0 U.S. run gave the Americans a 15-5 lead when Ionescu drove the length of the court and scored a layup at 4:42. Two times in the next few minutes France came within nine points of the USA, but after a three-point play from Durr and a free throw from Anigwe, the USA led 24-11 at the first break.
Three U.S. 3-pointers, including two from Samuelson helped the USA continue to improve its lead in the second quarter, and by the midway point, the scoreboard read 41-25 in the USA’s favor.
“I think we came out with a little bit of adrenaline, and we were ready to play this team,” Ionescu said. “So, we all had our minds right, and that's why it turned out like it did.”
France did not quit fighting in the third quarter, however, but 9-0 U.S. run in the last 3:13 of the stanza, including three points from Anigwe, two from Ogunbowale and four from Durr, helped the USA capture the game’s momentum and a 62-39 lead headed into the fourth quarter.
As seven U.S. scorers raced to 26 points in the final period, the U.S. defense allowed France just one point – a made free throw at 9:21, and the USA sailed in for an 88-40 win.
“It feels really good,” Anigwe said. “In the last game that we played against France, we put together one good first half, but in the second half we kind of slacked off. This team we played well the whole game.”
Alexia Chartereau led France with 13 points.
Also today in the USA’s Group D, China (1-1) topped Mali (0-2) 62-33. In Group A, Hungary (2-0) got its second overtime against Czech Republic (1-1) 88-85, and Canada (1-1) beat South Korea (0-2) 68-47; in Group B, Brazil (2-0) downed Italy (0-2) 54-33, and Spain (2-0) won against Egypt (0-2) 87-54; and in Group C Australia (2-0) topped Slovakia (1-1) 58-51 and Japan (1-1) won against Mexico (0-2) 65-36.
Looking to capture its third-straight FIBA U17 World Championship gold medal, the USA will wrap up play in the preliminary round against Mali at 6 p.m. (12 p.m. EDT) on July 1. All games up until the semifinals and finals are available online at www.youtube.com/user/FIBAWorld.
Following the preliminary round, all teams will be seeded within their groups and will advance to the Round of 16, which will be played on July 2. Winners of the Round of 16 will advance to the July 4 quarterfinals. The semifinals will be played on July 5, and the gold medal game is set for July 6.
The USA’s assistant coaches are Mary Coyle Klinger (Rutgers Preparatory School, N.J.) and Brian Robinson (Bishop McGuinness H.S./Stealers AAU, N.C.).
Based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA Basketball, chaired by Jerry Colangelo, is a nonprofit organization and the national governing body for men's and women's basketball in the United States. As the recognized governing body for basketball in the U.S. by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), USA Basketball is responsible for the selection, training and fielding of USA teams that compete in FIBA-sponsored international competitions, as well as for some national competitions, and for the development of youth basketball initiatives that address player development, coach education and safety.
USA teams are the current men's and women's champions in the Olympics; men's and women's FIBA World Championships (Basketball World Cup); men’s and women’s FIBA U19 and U17 World Championships; men's and women's U18 and U16 FIBA Americas Championships; the FIBA 3x3 Women's World Championship; and the FIBA 3x3 Women's U18 World Championship. USA Basketball currently ranks No. 1 in all five of FIBA's world-ranking categories, including combined, men's, women's, boys and girls.
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