USA Women Open FIBA U17 World Championship With 69-41 Win Over China
Pilsen, Czech Republic
Overcoming a first half that saw the USA shoot just 29.4 percent from the field (5-17 FGs), the 2014 USA Women’s U17 World Championship Team (1-0) relied on its defense to earn a 69-41 win over China (0-1) in its first game of the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship on Saturday evening at City Arena in Pilsen, Czech Republic.
“I think any time you can go to a World Championship and hold your opponent to four points in the first quarter that is a success,” said USA head coach Sue Phillips (Archbishop Mitty H.S./San Jose Cagers AAU, Calif.). “I thought we played really good defense. On the flip side, I don't think we were efficient offensively, but in the second half, we really picked up our energy. We played some great, intense defense and dictated the tempo. That allowed us to get out in transition and play to our strengths.”
With the USA leading by just seven points, 26-19, at halftime, 12 third-quarter points from Katie Lou Samuelson (Mater Dei H.S./Huntington Beach, Calif.), including back-to-back 3-pointers helped the USA capture the game’s momentum. Samuelson finished with 22 points and six rebounds, and she shot 4-of-4 from the free throw line and 4-of-10 from 3-point, which tied the U.S. Women’s U17 record for 3-pointers attempted – a mark she shares with Rebecca Greenwell, who tried 10 3-pointers against Italy in 2012. As a team, the USA set a new high with 23 3-pointers attempted, bettering the previous record of 18 set against Canada in 2010.
“At halftime we all knew we weren't shooting well, so we didn't want to force it,” Samuelson said. “Coach's emphasis was on going inside-out, and we tried to get the ball in the paint so we could get our game going. I think we did that, and the shots started falling.”
Kristine Anigwe (Desert Vista H.S./Phoenix, Ariz.) added 12 points and six rebounds in 17 minutes, while Lauren Cox (Flower Mound H.S./Flower Mound, Texas) grabbed 12 rebounds to go with her four points and two blocked shots. Additionally, Sabrina Ionescu (Miramonte H.S./Walnut Creek, Calif.) dished out five assists, and Anna Wilson (Collegiate School/Richmond, Va.) collected four steals.
“I think we have a well-rounded team, people who can bring energy, people who can shoot really well, so I think we do have all those things, we just needed to bring it to the table,” Wilson said.
The USA held China to just four points and 10.0 percent shooting (2-20 FGs) in the first quarter as four U.S. scorers combined for 12 points. The period fittingly was ended by a 3-pointer with just 1.5 seconds on the clock before the first break.
And while the USA pushed its advantage all the way up to 16 points, 22-6, with a fast-break bucket from Kennedy Burke (Sierra Canyon School/Northridge, Calif.) at 6:44, China came roaring back with its largest run of the game, an 11-0 spurt, to make it 22-17 at 1:45 in the second quarter. In the final minute of the first half, Durr scored four straight points before China scored an offensive rebound with one second left to send the teams to the locker rooms with the USA ahead 26-19.
With two free throws from De’Janae Boykin (Charles H. Flowers H.S./Springdale, Md.) and a score from Cox to start the third stanza, the USA immediately began to pull away in the second half. Scoring 10 straight points from 6:15 to 3:22, Samuelson put the USA up 44-28 with her second consecutive three at 3:22. After China scored twice, the USA launched a 13-0 run that began with a score from Anigwe off of an Ionescu assist and stretched through to 8:28 in the fourth quarter when Burke scored form the field and the Americans led 57-32. From there, the USA coasted in for the 69-41 win.
The USA won the rebounding battle 45-27 and benefited from 43 points off of the bench.
“We definitely picked up our defense in the second half, and our shots started falling, too,” said Nancy Mulkey (Cypress Woods H.S./Cypress, Texas). “Once our shots started falling, we felt better about the game.”
China got 10 points apiece from Zhen Wang and Haimel Wang.
Also today in the USA’s Group D, France (1-0) beat Mali (0-1) 66-45. In Group A, Czech Republic (1-0) defeated South Korea (0-1) 61-51 and Hungary (1-0) edged Canada (0-1) 76-73 in overtime; in Group B, Brazil (1-0) beat Egypt (0-1) 87-47 and Spain (1-0) downed Italy (0-1) 71-39; and in Group C, Australia (1-0) topped Japan (0-1) 54-46 and Slovakia (1-0) won against Mexico (0-1) 54-36.
Looking to capture its third-straight FIBA U17 World Championship gold medal, the USA will face 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.
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.).
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