USA U17 Women Fall To Australia 73-60 In Semifinals
In a matchup of undefeated teams in the semifinals of the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship, the 2016 USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Championship Team (5-1) lost to Australia (5-0) 73-60 on Friday afternoon in Zaragoza, Spain.
The USA will play China (4-2) in the bronze medal game at 12:30 p.m. EDT on July 2.
Australia will meet Italy (5-1), which earlier today beat China 62-51, in the gold medal at 3 p.m. EDT.
“It’s just really hard to lose,” said USA head coach Dori Oldaker (Mt. Lebanon H.S., Pa). “Our kids played their hearts out. Our focus now is on the next game, and that is to get a medal. Our focus now is on China.”
Despite making several come-back attempts to cut into Australia’s advantage, the USA never led in the game.
The USA could not contain Australia’s Jazmin Shelley, who had 23 points, and could not slow Australia’s running game, which tallied 23 points on the fast break.
“I think we started out slow,” said Olivia Nelson-Ododa (Winder-Barrow H.S./Winder, Ga.), who led the USA with 17 points and 10 rebounds. “In the second half, we were able to make a few runs. We tried to stay focused and just keep fighting.”
The game started with the USA falling behind 14-5 with 2:34 remaining in the first quarter. The USA responded, however, by closing with an 8-2 run to cut the deficit to 16-13 at the end of the period.
The USA pulled within two points in the second quarter, 20-18, after Aquira DeCosta (St. Mary's H.S./Stockton, Calif.), who finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots, scored an offensive rebound with 5:41 on the clock. But, Australia went ahead by nine points with two free throws at 3:16 to bring the score to 31-22. DeCosta scored and then made a free throw to end their streak, but an Australia 3-pointer ended the quarter and again put the Australians ahead by nine points, 36-27, at halftime.
Though the USA won the first-half rebounding battle 30-25, it shot just 27.5 percent (11-40 FGs) from the field and 45. 5 percent (5-11 FTs) from the line in the first half.
“We didn’t come out with enough intensity,” DeCosta said. “Once we picked up, it was too late.”
Helped by six points from Nelson-Ododa and a 3 from Destanni Henderson (Fort Myers H.S./Fort Myers, Fla.), who finished with 11 points, the USA pulled within three points, 39-36, at 7:07 in the third quarter. Australia answered right back outscored the USA 20-10 to take a 59-46 lead into the fourth quarter.
The closest the USA came to Australia in the fourth quarter was 10 points as Australia never let go of control of the game. Both teams scored 14 points in the fourth period to bring the game to its 73-60 final.
“The first half we kind of dug ourselves a hole,” said Maya Dodson (St. Francis H.S./Alpharetta, Ga.), who finished with 13 rebounds to go with seven points. “We kept pushing, trying to get out. We went on runs, they went on runs, but in the end we weren’t able to come out on top. Some of the second chances they got really hurt us, but I think we tried our best.”
Janelle Bailey (Providence Day School/Matthews, N.C.) added 10 points and 11 rebounds, while Henderson tied the USA U17 women’s record for field goal attempts with 21.
Owning a 59-49 rebounding advantage for the game, the USA shot just 30.7 percent from the field, including 1-of-14 from 3-point, and made only 59.1 percent from the line (13-22 FTs).
The USA’s assistant coaches are Dianne Lewis (Thomas Edison H.S., Va.) and Samantha Quigley (University of St. Francis, Ill.).