USA Women Open FIBA Americas U16 Championship With 80-48 Win Over Argentina
In its first game of the 2015 FIBA Americas U16 Championship on Wednesday night in Puebla, Mexico, the 2015 USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team (1-0) started slow but finished strong to secure an 80-48 win over Argentina (0-1).
The USA faces Honduras (0-1) at 3 p.m. (EDT) on June 25 and caps preliminary round play against host Mexico (1-) at 9 p.m. (EDT) on June 26. All of the USA’s games are being streamed live online at FIBAAmericas.com.
After missing its first three shot attempts and committing a turnover before scoring, the USA pulled away from Argentina 17-8 in the first quarter and from there never let up. Argentina, however, never quit battling to get back in the game, and between the two teams, 58 fouls were called, including 31 fouls on the USA.
“We were so excited to get started and see what the competition was like,” said USA head coach Dori Oldaker (Mt. Lebanon H.S., Pa.). “I thought Argentina played really, really well against us. I thought at times we were a little too lackadaisical with the ball, some bad turnovers, but we fought through the adversity of those kinds of situations.”
Alexis Morris (Legacy Christian Academy/Beaumont, Texas), who finished with 16 points, three steals and three assists, scored 10 of her points in the second quarter to help get the USA running smoothly; while Andra Espinoza-Hunter (Blair Academy, N.J./Ossining, N.Y.) also scored 16 points to go with five rebounds; and Honesty Scott-Grayson (Blair Academy/Brick, N.J.) rounded out the USA’s double-digit scorers with 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
“I think as a team we played really well,” Morris said. “It was a big difference playing with the crowd. Everyone was against us, and it was really intense.”
Morris opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer that was the start of a 17-4 run for the USA. Argentina ended the streak with five unanswered points, however, before the USA took a 38-19 lead into the halftime locker room.
“I feel overall as a team, we didn’t play our best, but we played pretty well for our first game,” Espinoza-Hunter said.
Argentina nearly kept pace with the USA in the third quarter, as the North Americans improved their lead by just three points in the period to head into the final 10 minutes with a comfortable 56-34 lead.
Nine different U.S. players put points on the board in the fourth quarter, including seven from Espinoza-Hunter, to help the USA outscore Argentina 24-14 and bring the game to its 80-48 final.
The USA dominated the rebounding battle 64-38 and shot 42.0 percent from the field while limiting the South Americans to just 23.1 percent from the field.
Lauryn Miller (Kirkwood H.S./Kirkwood, Mo.) dished out a game-high four of the USA’s 20 assists, and Valencia Myers (Solon H.S./Solon, Ohio) collected a game-high eight rebounds.
Argentina’s Amaiquen Carol Siciliano led her team with 10 points.
“We learned a lot,” said Scott-Grayson. “Coming from all over the country, we hadn’t really gelled yet, and for us to come together in our very first game, it was very important.”
Also today, in the USA’s Group A, Mexico defeated Honduras 74-45; while in Group B, Canada (1-0) defeated Cuba (0-1) 85-43, and Brazil (1-0) topped Venezuela (0-1) 84-40.
The top two finishing teams from each preliminary round group will advance to the semifinals, and the third and fourth-placed teams will compete for fifth-through-eighth places. The semifinals will be played on June 27, and the finals will be on June 28.
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 16-0 all-time in U16 play and is looking to capture a fourth-straight gold medal at the event.