USA U17 Women Rally Past Italy 59-55 To Secure No. 1 Seed In Round Of 16
A 12-0 run to start the fourth quarter helped propel the 2016 USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Championship Team (3-0) past previously undefeated Italy (2-1) and to a 59-55 win in the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship on Saturday night in Zaragoza, Spain.
With the win, the USA secured the No. 1 seed from Group C and will play Brazil (1-2), which is the No. 4 seed from Group D, in the round of 16 on June 27. The game time is still to be determined.
“It’s hard to start off games down by a deficit,” said USA head coach Dori Oldaker (Mt. Lebanon H.S., Pa.). “We are trying to start stronger, but it looks like we are finishing games stronger. The most important thing is we won, and we hopefully are learning from these tough games.”
After trailing for more than half of the game, the USA had a one-point lead, 41-40, headed into the final 10 minutes.
Christyn Williams (Central Arkansas Christian School/Little Rock, Ark.), who finished with a game-high 20 points, kicked off the run with a 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter, followed by a three-point play by Sedona Prince (Liberty Hill H.S./Liberty Hill, Texas) and six straight points from Aquira DeCosta (St. Mary's H.S./Stockton, Calif.), who scored 10 of her 12 points in the fourth quarter, and the USA led 53-40 with 6:20 remaining in the game.
“In the fourth quarter, we gained the momentum,” Williams said. “That really helped us get the win.”
Italy made a free throw, which was answered by a put-back from DeCosta, and then Italy scored six points to make it 55-47 with 3:17 to go. DeCosta scored to end the streak, before Italy’s Elisa Pinzan made the first of two consecutive 3-pointers, and after another Italy score with 48.7 seconds on the clock, the USA led by just four points 59-55.
The USA earned the win after it missed its next shot attempt, and Italy missed its next two shot attempts.
“I think the difference was rebounding, and energy from the bench, and getting defensive stops and just making good plays with great shots that we can easily make,” Dodson said of the USA’s performance in the fourth quarter.
Olivia Nelson-Ododa (Winder-Barrow H.S./Winder, Ga.) collected 16 rebounds and DeCosta added 12 boards to her 12 points.
The USA began the game ice cold and shot 1-of-18 (.006) from the field in the first quarter, with the lone field goal coming from Dodson with just 19 seconds remaining in the period. Along with five made free throws, the USA trailed Italy 9-7 at the first break.
Williams started the USA off with a 3-pointer to open the second quarter to make it 10-9 in Italy’s favor, but Italy responded with two 3s of its own. Dodson converted on an old-fashioned three-point play and then Henderson drove the lane for a score at 6:11 to give the USA the first lead, 16-15. After a score from each team, Italy put together a 6-0 run, but the USA responded with an 8-0 run that included three-point plays from Henderson and Williams, and the USA led 26-24 at 2:04. Italy closed the period, however, by outscoring the USA 6-2 to lead 30-28 at the midway point. In the second quarter the USA warmed up to shoot 8-of-15 (.533) from the field.
Collier tied the game at 30-all with made free throws to start the second half, which was followed by a 3 from the USA and a 3 from Italy, and the score remained tied, 33-33, at 8:21. Italy outscored the USA 5-2 over the next 5:38 to lead 38-35 at 2:43, but the USA put together another 6-0 run to take a 41-38 lead at 1:05. Italy scored the final points of the third quarter to make it 41-40.
“We started off slow, and we came back and really fought, and we played as a team,” Prince said. “Our bench was amazing, and it just feels good to be undefeated.”
Other round of 16 games include: Canada (3-0) versus Mexico (0-3); Japan (2-1) against France (1-2); Latvia (1-2) facing China (2-1); Italy (2-1) taking on Mali (1-2); Czech Republic (1-2) playing Portugal (1-2); and South Korea (0-3) versus Spain (3-0). Because Nigeria did not travel to Spain to compete, Group B No. 1 seed Australia has a bye into the quarterfinals. Game times are still to be determined.
The round of 16 winners will advance to the medal quarterfinals on June 29, and 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.
The USA’s assistant coaches are Dianne Lewis (Thomas Edison H.S., Va.) and Samantha Quigley (University of St. Francis, Ill.).
Also today, in the USA’s Group C, Czech Republic (1-2) got its first win over South Korea (0-3) 92-54; while in Group A, Canada (3-0) earned a 70-55 victory over Japan (2-1), and Latvia (1-2) earned a forfeit victory over Nigeria, which did not travel to Spain to compete. In Group B, China (2-1) beat Mexico (0-3) 82-43, and Australia (3-0) topped France (1-2) 55-48; and in Group D, Spain (3-0) won against Brazil (1-2) 70-58, and Portugal (1-2) held off Mali (1-2) 56-48.