USA U19 Women Outpace Host Spain 75-51, Clinch Spain U19 International Tournament Title
Led by a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds from A’ja Wilson (South Carolina/Hopkins, S.C.), the 2015 USA U19 World Championship Team (3-0) never trailed against host Spain (1-2) en route to a 75-51 victory and the Spain U19 International Invitational championship on Tuesday night in Mercia, Spain.
Aiding in the winning effort were Shakayla Thomas (Florida State/Sylacauga, Ala.), who came off the bench to score 12 points, grab eight boards and notch three steals; and Napheesa Collier (Incarnate Word Academy/O’Fallon, Mo.), who added nine points and eight rebounds. Further, Wilson was credited with four of the USA’s 11 blocked shots.
“We came out and executed on both sides of the ball,” said USA U19 and University of South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley. “We knew that Spain wasn’t going to be a team that just went away. They’re getting acclimated to getting a couple of post players back from the U20 European Championship. It was good to play Spain in Spain, just to give us a taste of what it’s going to feel like being in Russia. I think our players are getting better each and every day. We look forward to seeing us play our best basketball next week.”
The USA earned the July 12-14 round-robin tournament title playing against U19 teams from Australia (1-2), Canada (1-2) and Spain. Canada picked up its first Spain tournament win earlier this evening, a 67-60 victory over Australia.
The USA scored first and after going up 4-3 in the early minutes put together a 12-2 run, capped by a Mariya Moore (Louisville/Richmond, Calif.) field goal that extended the USA’s lead to 16-5.
Spain called time out to regroup, and from there, the hosts managed to keep pace with the red, white and blue. Chatrice White (Illinois/Shelby, Neb.) scored the USA’s final six points of the quarter, and the first period ended with the U.S. up by 10, 22-12.
Six points by Wilson in a 10-5 run spanning the first half of the second period helped the U.S. extend its lead to 32-17.
Spain countered with a 6-0 mini-spurt to close the gap to nine, 32-23, with 1:18 to play before halftime. However, the U.S. distanced itself by a dozen points at halftime by outscoring Spain 4-1 to close with a 36-24 lead.
Receiving points from seven different players, the U.S. roared out of the halftime gates, held Spain to just a pair of free throws and jumped out to a commanding 48-26 lead in just under four minutes of play. By the time Spain hit its first field goal of the quarter at 5:55, the U.S. was well in control of the game, 48-28.
“Spain was a great team, but we went out there with the mindset of not backing down to any opponent,” said Wilson. “We played to our strengths. We played a great game together, which got us a win.”
The Americans remained 20 points in front at the end of the third quarter, 55-35, and outscored Spain 20-16 in the fourth.
In addition to collecting the 24-point victory USA dominated on the inside and outrebounded Spain by 30 caroms, 59-29, including 41-19 on the offensive end.
“It is like coach Staley always says, ‘rebounding is a choice,’” said Wilson on her team’s inside play. “It is something that you have to put in your mind. You have to say, ‘I am going to get that rebound.’ You have to go after it. We have a length and height advantage over some of these teams, so it makes it a lot easier, but rebounding is a choice that you have to make.”
“We did really well rebounding,” added Moore, who finished with seven points and three of the USA’s 15 assists. “People are going to miss; we can’t make all our shots, but as long as we rebound that gives us another chance.”
Overall the USA shot 40.9 percent (27-66 FGs) from the floor, while limiting Spain to just 26.4 percent (19-72 FGs) shooting on the night.
Spain’s U19 squad saw the return of a pair of athletes who on Sunday won a gold medal as members of the 2015 Spain U20 European Championship Team, Helena Orts and Sara Zaragoza, neither of whom competed in the first two contests for the host country in Mercia.
“It has been a good look at the teams that we are going to be playing against,” said White, who scored eight points against Spain and averaged 6.4 points over the three-game tournament. “These are the top teams in the world. So, it is giving us an idea of what other players are out there and the competition we will be facing, along with how different the game is overseas compared to (the way it’s played) in the USA.”
Katie Lou Samuelson (Mater Dei H.S./Huntington Beach, Calif.) returned home during the USA’s training camp due to a family issue and did not compete in the Spain U19 International Invitational.
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.
The USA U19 squad is on a quest to capture a sixth-consecutive gold medal at the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship and used the Spain U19 International Invitational as a final tune-up for the U19 Worlds, which will be played July 18-26 in Chekhov, Russia,
The USA will open 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship play against Spain on July 18 (1:15 p.m. EDT), face China on July 19 (1:15 p.m. EDT) and cap preliminary round play on July 21 against Egypt (1:15 p.m. EDT). The USA’s preliminary round games will be streamed live online at YouTube.com/FIBA.
2015 FIBA U19 World Championship
The FIBA U19 Worlds will feature 16 teams with athletes 19 years old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1996). The 16 teams will be seeded following the July 18-21 preliminary play and advance to the knockout phase with the round of 16 on July 22. The quarterfinals are scheduled for July 24, semifinals are on July 25 and the tournament will end with the medal games on July 26.
Competing in Group A are host Russia, Argentina, the Netherlands and Japan; Group C consists of Belgium, Canada, and Mali; while Group D includes Australia, Brazil, Serbia and South Korea.
First held in 1985 and known as the FIBA Junior World Championship through 2001, the U19 World Championship features the world’s top players who are 19 years old or younger. Held every four years through 2005, FIBA now holds U19 World Championships every two years.
USA women’s teams are 66-12 in the U19/Junior World Championships, capturing a fifth-consecutive gold in 2013 with a 9-0 record. In all, the USA own a record six gold medals and one bronze medal and have stood on the podium in each of the past seven FIBA U19 World Championships.
Notable players to represent the U.S. include: Angela Aycock (1993); Alana Beard (2001); Essence Carson (2005); Tamika Catchings (1997); Crystal Langhorne (2005); Erlana Larkins (2005); Jantel Lavender (2007); Lisa Leslie (1989); Rebecca Lobo (1993); Maya Moore (2007); Nnemkadi Ogwumike (2009); Vickie Orr (1985); Courtney Paris (2005); Cappie Pondexter (2001); Katie Smith (1993); Dawn Staley (1989); Breanna Stewart (2011 and 2013); and Diana Taurasi (2001).