USA U17 Women Fight To A 56-45 Win Against France And Advance To Semifinals
Clinging to a three-point lead with 6:03 remaining in the game, the 2016 USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Championship Team (5-0) held France (2-3) scoreless the rest of the way and rolled on to an 11-point, 56-45 win in the quarterfinals of the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship on Wednesday night in Zaragoza, Spain.
With the win, the USA advances to the medal semifinals, where it will face Australia (4-0) at 10 a.m. EDT on July 1.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” said USA head coach Dori Oldaker (Mt. Lebanon H.S., Pa.). “I knew they were going to be prepared for us. I believe we beat them by 12 in exhibition, and I knew it was going to be tougher here.
“They are a great rebounding team, and we knew we had to beat them on the boards. We talked about blocking out and not trying to out-jump them. We beat them on the boards 53-37. So, I think we somewhat did our job.”
The USA previously had beaten France 58-46 in an exhibition game on June 18 in Anglet, France.
Christyn Williams (Central Arkansas Christian School/Little Rock, Ark.) led the USA with 17 points, six rebounds and three steals; Maya Dodson (St. Francis H.S./Alpharetta, Ga.) and Olivia Nelson-Ododa (Winder-Barrow H.S./Winder, Ga.) each had nine points; and Janelle Bailey (Providence Day School/Matthews, N.C.) finished with 10 rebounds.
“We really picked it up as a unit tonight,” Williams said. “I thought we kept our composure throughout the whole game.”
The USA jumped out to a 9-3 lead, including seven points from Williams, but France battled back to tie the game at 11-all with 2:44 remaining in the quarter. Abby Prohaska (Lakota West H.S./Liberty Township, Ohio) hit consecutive 3-pointers to help the USA go up 17-12 at 1:33. France made two free throws, however, to end the first quarter with the USA leading 17-14.
After a free throw from Bailey and score from Charli Collier (Barbers Hill H.S./Mont Belvieu, Texas), the USA led 20-17, but France hit a 3 to tie the game at 20-20 with 4:51 on the clock in the second period. Williams sank back-to-back 3s of her own to put the USA ahead 26-21 with 1:55 to go before halftime. But, France responded with a 6-0 run and lead 27-26 before Jenna Brown (The Lovett School/Marietta, Ga.) was fouled with one second left and made both of her free throws to give the USA the 28-27 edge at halftime.
The USA went up by as many as six points in the third quarter, 35-29, with 5:47 on the clock, before France strung together a 7-0 run to take a 36-35 lead with 3:27 on the clock. Two free throws from Destanni Henderson (Fort Myers H.S./Fort Myers, Fla.) ended France’s run.
France scored once more in the period before the USA put together a 7-0 run to end the quarter with a 44-38 lead. The seven-point stretch kicked off with a 3 from Samantha Brunelle (William Monroe H.S./Ruckersville, Va.) and finished with a steal and fast break layup from Aquira DeCosta (St. Mary's H.S./Stockton, Calif.).
“We started off kind of sluggish in the first half, but in the second half we started actually getting runs, picking it up more,” said Henderson, who had four assists.
DeCosta and Nelson-Ododa scored for the USA in the first few minutes of the fourth quarter, while France cut it to within three points, 48-45, with a 3-pointer with 6:03 on the clock.
That was the last time they would score, however, as the USA defense buckled down to force two turnovers and two missed shots, while its offense got scores from Dodson, DeCosta, Nelson-Ododa and Williams to earn the 56-45 win.
“We had more energy in the fourth quarter, and we just started to play together and make shots,” Dodson said.
Earlier today Australia (4-0) cruised past Czech Republic (2-3) 83-53 to earn its semifinal berth. The other medal semifinal will feature China (4-1), which defeated Spain (4-1) 55-51, and Italy (4-1), which edged out Canada (4-1) 58-56.
The semifinal winners will meet in the finals and the losers will play in the bronze medal game on July 2.
Canada, Czech Republic, France and Spain will play out for fifth through eighth place. The complete schedule can be found online at: usab.com/womens/u17/schedule.aspx.
The USA’s assistant coaches are Dianne Lewis (Thomas Edison H.S., Va.) and Samantha Quigley (University of St. Francis, Ill.).