U17 Women Fall to Host France in Exhibition Tournament Final
The 2014 USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Championship Team (2-1) could not fend off a second-half surge by France (3-0) and lost to the host country 78-72 in an exhibition tournament championship on Sunday evening at Agora Michel Baron in Nogent Sur Seine, France.
The USA saw its 15-point halftime lead nearly erased in the third quarter before France when on to outscore the Americans 30-22 in the final stanza to secure the win.
“I thought we really let up our intensity in the second half,” said USA head coach Sue Phillips (Archbishop Mitty H.S./San Jose Cagers AAU, Calif.). “France did an excellent job of executing their half-court set, got deep in the lane and shared the basketball extremely well. On the other hand, we settled for mid-range jump shots and didn't get the type of looks we did in the first half. Credit France for a great game plan and playing extremely well.”
While the USA shot 47.1 percent from the field (16-34 FGs) in the first half to France’s 25.0 percent (6-24 FGs.), those roles were reversed in the second half, which saw the USA cool to 29.7 percent from the field (11-37 FGs) and France heat up to 57.1 percent from the field (20-35 FGs).
Asia Durr (St. Pius X Catholic H.S./Douglasville, Ga.) led the USA with 22 points and six assists; Arike Ogunbowale (Divine Savior Holy Angels H.S./Milwaukee, Wis.) scored 12; and Kristine Anigwe (Desert Vista H.S./Phoenix, Ariz.) and De’Janae Boykin (Charles H. Flowers H.S./Springdale, Md.) each had 10 points and seven rebounds.
“We came out with good intensity, and they had good intensity as well,” Boykin said. “We had certain spurts in the game and so did they, and they just finished off stronger.”
The game started with an offensive put-back from Ogunbowale, and after a 3-pointer and three-point play from Durr and another put-back from Anigwe – on the USA’s fourth offensive board, the Americans led 10-3 when France called a timeout at 5:45. France scored out of the break, and finished off the stanza with four made free throws in the last 1:15 to cut the U.S. advantage to 18-15 after the first 10 minutes.
The USA put up the first five points of the second period to lead 23-15 before France responded, but the USA did not let up, closing with a 13-3 run to take a 38-23 lead at halftime.
While France immediately began to chip away at the U.S. advantage in the second half, a 6-0 run that began midway through the quarter brought France within seven points, 45-38 at 2:50. From there the U.S. made just one basket and three free throws while France scored seven points and sank a 3-pointer with just two second left to trail 50-48 headed into the final 10 minutes.
“We started off well,” Durr said. “Then we turned the ball over, and in the third quarter they came out and made every shot they put up, so it was a tough game for us.”
Anigwe and Boykin each scored to start the fourth quarter, but France hit a 3-pointer and converted a three-point play at 7:40 to take its first lead of the game, 56-55 at 7:40. The lead changed hands six times over the next 3:35, and a 3-pointer from Durr tied the game at 66-all at 2:56. France scored from the field and Durr sank a pull-up jumper to again tie the score at 68-all at 1:40. From there, however, the U.S. got itself into foul trouble. France’s final 10 points all came from the free throw line, including four points that were scored before the USA was forced to foul in the last 30 seconds to try and extend the game. Shooting 10-of-10 from the line over the final 59.6 seconds, France closed the door on the USA’s comeback hopes.
“I think we played with heart,” said Kennedy Burke (Sierra Canyon School/Northridge, Calif.). “We were both talented teams, but I guess they just wanted it more than we did.
“We will see them again next week,” Burke added.
In fact France is the USA’s second preliminary round opponent in the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship, which beings on June 28.
France, which benefited from 46 points off of its bench, got 11 points and four assists from tournament MVP Alix Duchet and 12 points from Alexia Chartereau.
Also playing in the exhibition tournament were Canada (1-2) and China (0-3), with Canada beating China 54-46 to finish in third place.
Durr and Joyner Holmes (Cedar Hill H.S./Cedar Hill, Texas) were named to the five-member all-tournament team, while Durr was among the top four shooters in a 3-point contest.
Katie Lou Samuelson (Mater Dei H.S./Huntington Beach, Calif.) did not play due to illness. She will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis.
USA assistant coaches are Mary Coyle Klinger (Rutgers Preparatory School, N.J.) and Brian Robinson (Bishop McGuinness H.S./Stealers AAU, N.C.).
The 2014 USA U17 World Championship Team will travel to the Czech Republic for the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship that will be played June 28-July 6.
Looking to capture its third-straight FIBA U17 World Championship gold medal, the USA was placed into Group D, where it will face China on June 28, France on June 29 and Mali on July 1.
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.
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