USA Women’s U17 World Championship Team Tops France 58-46 In Exhibition Play
Taking on the France U17 National Team (0-1), the 2016 USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Championship Team (1-0) relied on its rebounding to control the game and secure a 58-46 win on Saturday evening at El Hogar gym in Anglet, France.
Tallying a 65-36 advantage on the glass overall, the USA was led by 19 points and 13 rebounds from Aquira DeCosta (St. Mary's H.S./Stockton, Calif.), 11 points and four assists from Maya Dodson (St. Francis H.S./Alpharetta, Ga.), 10 points from Destanni Henderson (Fort Myers H.S./Fort Myers, Fla.) and 13 rebounds from Janelle Bailey (Providence Day School/Matthews, N.C.).
After beginning training camp on June 8 and traveling to France on June 15, the friendly against France was the USA’s first international competition prior to the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship that will be played June 22-July 2 in Zaragoza, Spain. The USA will travel to Spain on June 19.
“I thought it was a great opportunity for us to get a game atmosphere under our belts,” said USA head coach Dori Oldaker (Mt. Lebanon H.S., Pa.). “The kids were very anxious before the game, and it was kind of nice for them to get the jitters out and get some solid play from our team.
“We definitely are going to need to clean some things up, offensively and defensively, but I think it was a great start for us.”
The first quarter saw the USA trail 11-6 before the team put together a 9-1 run to close the quarter with a 15-12 lead. In the first 10 minutes, Olivia Nelson-Ododa (Winder-Barrow H.S./Winder, Ga.) led the USA with all five of her points.
In the second quarter DeCosta came alive for the USA, scoring eight points in the period to help the USA improve upon its lead. With the Americans up 33-21 and just a few seconds remaining, France made a 3-pointer at 1.0 second to head to the halftime locker rooms with the USA leading 33-24.
“I’m excited,” DeCosta said. “We played well. It was our first game. We can get better, but I’m really excited to play with this team and to see what could happen.”
The second half was a low-scoring affair for both teams.
France nearly kept pace with the USA in the third quarter, but thanks in part to six more points from DeCosta, the USA outscored France 13-12 in the period and led 46-35 at the final quarter break.
Henderson scored five of her points in the fourth quarter, which saw the USA put up 12 points to France’s 10 to bring the game to its 58-46 final.
“I thought we did good for it being our first time playing girls at our level,” Henderson said. “We started off kind of slow, kind of rocky and forcing stuff, but once we actually got into the game, we played really well together as a team.”
The USA’s 28 bench points were a bright spot, while it committed 26 turnovers and shot just 31.5 percent from the field (23-73 FGs) and was 1-of-7 from 3-point (.143).
“Definitely there we some good things and, obviously, some things we can improve on,” Oldaker said. “That’s our job as a coaching staff to break it down and fix what is broken and improve.”
The USA’s assistant coaches are Dianne Lewis (Thomas Edison H.S., Va.) and Samantha Quigley (University of St. Francis, Ill.).
In the FIBA U17 World Championship, the USA opens play in Group C against South Korea at 8:30 p.m. (all times listed are CEST, which is +6 hours from EDT) on June 22, followed by Czech Republic at 2:15 p.m. on June 24 and a final preliminary round game against Italy at 9 p.m. on June 25.
Playing in Group A are Canada, Japan, Latvia and Nigeria; Group B includes Australia, China, France and Mexico; and Group D features Brazil, Mali, Portugal and host Spain.
All teams will play in the round of 16 on June 27, and those winners will advance to the medal quarterfinals on June 29. Round of 16 losers will play out for ninth through 16th place.
The semifinals are on July 1, and the finals are on July 2.