Balanced Effort Lifts USA U19 Women Over Argentina 89-39, Into Medal Quarterfinals
Behind a balanced scoring effort, which saw five U.S. athletes score in double digits, the 2015 USA Basketball U19 women (4-0) opened up a 28-4 lead after the first quarter and ran away with a 89-39 victory over Argentina (0-4) in the FIBA U19 World Championship round of 16 on Wednesday evening in Vidnoje, Russia. The victory advances the USA into the July 24 medal quarterfinals, where it will face Canada (2-2) for the right to advance to the medal semifinals (time TBA, live on YouTube.com/FIBA).
Five-time defending gold medalists at the FIBA U19 World Championship, today’s win ups the USA’s overall record to 70-12 dating to the first U19 tournament in 1985. Even more impressive, in the past seven U19s, the USA has captured six gold medals and one bronze medal with a 58-4 record during that span, including this year’s 4-0 mark.
A’ja Wilson (South Carolina/Hopkins, S.C.), who scored nine points in the opening stanza, finished with a game-high 18 points, while Napheesa Collier (Incarnate Word Academy/O’Fallon, Mo.), Mariya Moore (Louisville/Richmond, Calif.), Ali Patberg (Columbus North H.S./Columbus, Ind.) and Azurá Stevens (Duke/Raleigh, N.C.) contributed 11 points apiece. Additionally, Moore and Gabbi Ortiz (Oklahoma/Racine, Wis.) each dished out six assists.
“Our starters got us off to a great start on both sides of the ball and then there was a trickle-down effect when people came into the game, with the next group keeping up that energy,” said USA U19 and University of South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley. “As we continue to move through the tournament, the competition is going to get a lot stiffer and we have one more day to prep. Once we got out to a big lead, we wanted to work on some things that we need to fine tune, like our three-quarter court press, our two-three zone, just in case we need to fall back on a different adjustment throughout the tournament. I thought we did a really good job at being aggressive and seeing different people in different positions in our press excel at the press.”
A Stevens jumper opened the scoring at 7:58 and Argentina followed 17 seconds later with its only field goal of the first quarter to tie the score at 2-all. From that point, the U.S. defense stopped Argentina cold in its tracks, while its offense went to work on the other end.
Wilson netted a turn-around jumper at 6:59 to put the U.S. on top for good. Stevens then scored five-straight points, Wilson got another bucket and Moore swished in a 3-pointer at 4:43 to give the USA a 14-2 lead. Argentina called for a time out, but wasn’t able to stem the tide. Wilson scored the next five points on a layup and a traditional 3-point play to extend the lead to 19-2 at 3:51.
Argentina notched two points from the line at 1:51, but the U.S. responded with a 9-0 spurt to close the first 10 minutes of play with an overwhelming 28-4 lead.
In addition to holding Argentina to a frigid 7.7 percent (1-13 FGs) shooting in the first period, while connecting on 57.9 percent (11-19 FGs) on the offensive end, the USA outscored Argentina 14-2 in the paint, 6-0 off the bench and converted 10 points off of 11 Argentine turnovers.The second quarter saw the USA outscore Argentina 20-14 for a 48-18 halftime lead. By the midway point, eight U.S. players had put up points, including 13 from Wilson and nine from Collier.
“I think that’s something that I’m very glad that we have -- our depth,” said Wilson on her team’s balanced attack against Argentina. “Any time you can sit the starters down and a second group can go in and sometimes even a third wave can go in and you don’t skip a beat, that’s something very special. I think we’re the only team in the tournament that really has that depth and we use it to our advantage very well. The other group coming in behind the starters really gets it done for us.”
The second half was more of the same as the USA outscored Argentina 21-8 in the third period and 20-13 in the fourth.“In the games where we are winning by a lot, coach says that these are the best types of practices for us,” said Chatrice White (Illinois/Shelby, Neb.), who scored six points and grabbed nine boards in 13 minutes. “We really worked on some more of our presses and our two-three zone, so we can match-up against different teams, give them a different look. We just wanted to work on our game, making the extra pass, finding the best shot, not necessarily the best shot for ourselves, but the best shot for our team.”
Dominating in every aspect of the game, the USA outrebounded Argentina 53-26, scored 27 points off of 27 turnovers, picked off 21 steals and held Argentina to 24.6 percent (15-61 FGs) shooting from the field. Meanwhile, the USA connected on 44.0 percent (33-75 FGs) of its field goals, and gave up just three points from its 15 turnovers. Additionally, the U.S. outscored Argentina 40-30 in the paint, 12-4 on second chance and 38-17 off the bench.
Assisting Staley and the U19 squad are collegiate head coaches Kim Barnes Arico of the University of Michigan and Jeff Walz of the University of Louisville. In other round of 16 games today, France (3-1) advanced to the medal round after outscoring Brazil (1-3) 16-3 in overtime for a 76-63 victory, Canada outscored Serbia (2-2) 22-11 in the fourth quarter en route to a 58-52 win, Australia (4-0) had no trouble getting into the quarterfinals after downing Mali (0-4) 91-23, Belgium (4-0) punched its quarterfinals ticket with a 70-37 win over South Korea (0-4), Russia (4-0) advanced by defeating Egypt (0-4) 94-37, Spain (2-2) defeated the Netherlands (2-2) 73-68 and China (3-1) took Taiwan (1-3) 89-63.
Quarterfinals winners will advance to the July 25 semifinals, while the finals will be played on July 26. Losing teams will continue to play out for fifth through 16 places.
“We’re going to look for (Canada) to come out, they’re going to play 40 minutes of hard-nosed, tough basketball,” said Staley regarding the USA’s quarterfinal opponent. “For us, we have to continue to do what we’ve done throughout the tournament and that’s use our bigs, keep sharing the basketball and our three-quarter court press has been tremendous for us. Hopefully we can continue to fine tune that, disrupt on both sides of the ball, and do what we do best, which is sharing the basketball and get the ball to our bigs.”
Including tonight’s victory over Argentina and the three exhibition contests in Spain, Staley now owns a 18-0 record as a USA Basketball head coach, which includes one game as the acting head coach for the 2006 USA National Team and five each at the 2007 Pan American Games and 2014 FIBA Americas U16 Championship. Overall, including her USA National Team assistant coaching stints, Staley’s USA Basketball coaching record stands at an impressive 61-4.