USA U16 Women Fall To Brazil 72-63 In Semifinals
After fighting back from being down by as many as 22 points in the game to within six points in the fourth quarter, the 2015 USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team’s (3-1) comeback attempt fell short against Brazil (3-1), and the USA lost 72-63 in the semifinals of the 2015 FIBA Americas U16 Championship on Saturday night in Puebla, Mexico.
The USA will play Mexico (2-2) in the bronze medal game at 7 p.m. (EDT) on June 28. Brazil will meet Canada (4-0) in the gold medal game at 9 p.m. (EDT). All of the games are being streamed live online at FIBAAmericas.com.
By virtue of a top-four finish in the tournament, the USA, Brazil, Canada and Mexico all have qualified for next summer’s 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship.
“Brazil, obviously, played really, really well,” said USA head coach Dori Oldaker (Mt. Lebanon H.S., Pa.). “I thought our kids played their tail ends off to get us back in the game. At one point we were down 22, and we cut it to six. So, I’m proud of them for fighting through that big deficit.”
The USA got 21 points from Alexis Morris (Legacy Christian Academy/Beaumont, Texas), who set a USA Women’s U16 record with nine made free throws and tied the free throw attempts record with 10, but it was not enough to overcome 24 points from Brazil’s Izabela Leite and 20 points from Obalunanma Ugwu.
“I feel like we fought hard to get back in the game,” Morris said. “We were down by 22. We came back, and we played hard as a team. We came up short, but hard as a team.”
Brazil led from the start, going ahead 5-2 early on. An offensive rebound from Williams made it 5-4 at 7:30, but Brazil’s Clarissa Carneiro sank back-to-back 3-pointers and scored on a pull-up to put Brazil ahead 13-4 and force a U.S. timeout at 5:17. The USA scored four quick points out of the break, but Brazil outscored the USA 8-6 to close the quarter, including a put-back off of a missed free throw at the buzzer, and Brazil led 21-14 after the first 10 minutes.
The teams traded scores to start the second period before Brazil put together an 8-0 run to lead 33-18 at 6:24 and force another U.S. timeout. Destiny Littleton (The Bishop’s School/San Diego, Calif.) made a 3-pointer at 5:59, but Brazil answered right back with a 3 of its own, and then went on to compile a 22-point lead after an offensive rebound made it 45-23 at 2:23. The USA put the last four points of the quarter on the board to cut the deficit to 45-27 at halftime.
At the midway point, the USA was just 29.4 percent from the field (10-34 FGs) and was getting outrebounded 23-21. Meanwhile, Brazil, which already had three players in double-digit scoring, was 41.5 percent from the field (17-41 FGs), including 15 second-chance points.
The third quarter saw the USA only able to narrow the margin by one point overall to trail 58-41 headed into the fourth period.
“I think definitely Brazil came from the beginning showing that they wanted that championship game,” said Lauryn Miller (Kirkwood H.S./Kirkwood, Mo.). “They never gave up. They never let up. With that 22-point lead, they never stopped working.”
The U.S. run occurred in the fourth quarter. After Brazil scored two points to open the period, two made free throw from Morris were the start of a 12-0 U.S. spurt, and the USA trailed by just seven points, 60-53 when Desireé Caldwell (Johnson H.S./San Antonio, Texas) scored at 5:08. Brazil scored at 4:37 to stop the streak, and a 3-pointer from Morris at 3:22 pulled the USA within six points, 64-58. That was as close as the USA would get. A 6-0 run gave Brazil back a 12-point lead and control of the game, 70-58, with 1:22 remaining. Four of the USA’s nine missed free throws overall (16-25 FTs) came in the last 1:08 as time ran out in the game and Brazil secured the 72-63 win.
Andra Espinoza-Hunter (Blair Academy, N.J./Ossining, N.Y.) and Jade Williams (Prestonwood Christian Academy/The Colony, Texas) had nine points apiece, while Honesty Scott-Grayson (Blair Academy/Brick, N.J.) dished out five assists and Valencia Myers (Solon H.S./Solon, Ohio) collected 10 rebounds.
The USA, which finished the game with a 59-50 advantage on the boards, shot 31.0 overall (22-71 FGs) and committed 18 turnovers, while Brazil shot 35.7 percent from the field (30-84 FGs) and coughed the ball up just 11 times.
“We are ready to fight back,” Littleton said. “We are not going to put our heads down over this. Losses happen. Obviously, we don’t want to lose. Redemption is tomorrow. Winning a bronze is obviously not as good as a gold, but we are going to fight for it.”
Also today in the classification games, Argentina (2-2) beat Venezuela (0-4) 64-51, and Cuba (2-2) topped Honduras (0-4) 59-53.
Venezuela and Honduras will play on June 28 at 3 p.m. (EDT) for seventh place, while Argentina and Cuba will play for fifth place at 5 p.m. (EDT).
The USA’s assistant coaches are Dianne Lewis of Thomas Edison High School in Virginia and Samantha Quigley, who is the head coach at the University of St. Francis (NAIA) in Illinois.
The USA is 18-1 all-time in U16 play.