USA U19 Women Rout Canada 93-45, Advance To Medal Semifinals
Opening with an 11-0 run and racing to a 28-5 advantage in the first 10 minutes of play, the 2015 USA Basketball Women’s U19 World Championship Team (5-0) continued to overpower Canada (2-3) for an eventual 93-45 medal quarterfinal win at the FIBA U19 World Championship on Friday night in Chekhov, Russia.
The USA will face Spain (3-2) in the July 25 semifinals for the right to advance to the July 26 gold medal game. The USA’s game against Spain will tip-off at 1:15 p.m. EDT and be streamed live online on ESPN3. In the first of the two semifinal contests, a pair of undefeated teams, host Russia (5-0) and Australia (5-0), will play at 11 a.m. EDT live online at YouTube.com/FIBA.
“Everybody came in with a certain level of focus,” said USA U19 and University of South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley. “Our coaching staff talked to them a lot about this being an important game, because it’s a game that leads us to ultimately getting what we want, which is to win the gold medal.
“It all starts with guard play for Canada. So, we needed to be disruptive and not let them get into their half court sets. When you’re able to let them run their half court sets, they’re pretty good and they’re pretty efficient. We tried to speed them up and not let them look us over. We occupied them, occupied the person with the ball and applied a lot of pressure on her and cut down on her vision. And then it was just a snowball effect. If you cut the head off, the rest will follow, and I thought we did a good job of applying a lot of pressure on the ball.”
All U.S. team members scored, including a game-high 12 points from Napheesa Collier (Incarnate Word Academy/O’Fallon, Mo.) and Mariya Moore (Louisville/Richmond, Calif.). Also scoring in double digits were A’ja Wilson (South Carolina/Hopkins, S.C.) with 11 points, Kristine Anigwe (Desert Vista H.S./Phoenix, Ariz.) chipped in 10 points, and Azurá Stevens (Duke/Raleigh, N.C.) neared a double-double with nine points and eight caroms.
“It’s amazing, because on other teams here, there’s only one or two good players,” said Collier of the USA’s balanced scoring attack. “So, when you’re scouting other teams you only have to shut down one person. But you can’t shut down a whole team. So, I think that it really helps that everyone can score; everyone is so good.
Crystal Dangerfield (Blackman H.S./Murfreesboro, Tenn.) was active on both ends of the court, finishing with nine points, four assists and five steals; while Destiny Slocum (Mountain View H.S./Meridian, Idaho) dished out a game-high five assists to go with seven points. Leading the rebounding effort was Lauren Cox (Flower Mound H.S./Flower Mound, Texas), who hauled in 10 rebounds, while adding eight points, two assists, two blocked shots and three steals to her stat line.
Behind the scoring of four different players, the USA put together an 11-0 run to open the game.
“Our starting group did a really good job of working our game plan,” said Dangerfield. “Then our bench was able to really keep after it. They had trouble against our press, and the zone was just causing them problems.”
While Canada hit a 3-pointer, followed by a jumper to pull to within 11-5 at 6:03, those five points proved to be Canada’s final of the period.
Collier scored seven points and Wilson had six as the red, white and blue outscored Canada 17-0 to cap the first 10 minutes of play with a commanding 28-5 advantage.
“We had a really good start,” said Cox. “We really shut them down. We shut their main players down. Everyone did a really good job of playing defense against them; and we shut them down in that first quarter.”
A Cox bucket extended the lead to 30-5 early in the second quarter. Canada responded with a 5-0 mini spurt to close the gap to 20 points, 30-10 at 7:59, but from that point on, the United States maintained complete control and never looked back. Six different U.S. athletes scored during a 15-0 run and by the time Canada scored again with one free throw at 1:52, the game was well in hand, 45-11.
Headed into the midway break the USA’s lead was 55-17. The U.S. outscored Canada 19-10 in the third quarter and 19-18 in the fourth.
The USA’s largest lead of the night was 55 points, 74-19, with 2:44 to play in the third quarter.
“We’re starting to click on offense a bit better, and our defense is really starting to disrupt the other teams and our bench is getting stronger,” added Dangerfield. “Our rebounding is getting better. We know we really have to start to blocking out and going harder, because the games mean more and the teams are going to be harder, but I think we’re doing a really good job.”
In all, the USA outscored Canada 42-8 in the paint, 15-10 on second-chance points and 43-22 in points off the bench. The U.S. also outrebounded Canada 52-38, and half of Canada’s 32 turnovers came from 16 U.S. steals.
The USA defense held Canada to just 23.5 percent (16-68 FGs) shooting from the field but allowed the Canadian squad to hit 32.3 percent (10-31 3pt FGs) from beyond the arc. On the other end, the red, white and blue connected on a blistering 52.4 percent (33-63 FGs) of its field goal attempts and 43.8 percent (7-16 3pt FGs) from 3-point.
Tomorrow’s game will be the USA’s third contest against Spain since July 14, when the U.S. earned a 75-51 victory in a pre-U19 World Championship exhibition game in Mercia, Spain. The USA also defeated Spain 72-57 to open play at the U19s on July 18.
“It’s really tough, especially each time we played them, they lessened the gap between victory and defeat,” said Staley. “Obviously they scouted us. But, we’re different from the first time that we played Spain. We’re a lot more aggressive in our three-quarter court press. So, they’ll be prepared a little bit better because they saw it in pool play. But, our depth is the thing that will carry us through this entire tournament, so hopefully we can exhaust Spain. Whoever they have in the game and whoever they bring into the game, we’ll put fresh bodies out there to wear them down. Although it’s difficult to play a team three times, I like who we’re bringing to the table in this third game.”
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 the day’s other quarterfinal games, Russia defeated France (3-2) 68-48, Australia sailed past China (3-2) 83-46 and Spain edged previously undefeated Belgium (4-1) 70-66.
In classification games, Brazil (2-3) beat Egypt (0-5) 84-66, Netherlands (3-2) routed South Korea (0-5) 72-41, Mali (1-4) picked up its first victory after downing Taiwan (1-4) 77-59 and Serbia (3-2) nipped Argentina (0-5) 66-59.
Five-time defending gold medalists at the FIBA U19 World Championship, today’s win ups the USA’s overall record to 71-12 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 59-4 record during that span, including this year’s 5-0 mark.
Including tonight’s victory over Canada and the three exhibition contests in Spain, Staley now owns a 19-0 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 62-4.