USA U17 Women Earn Bronze Medal With 65-50 Win Over China
The U.S. defense once again starred for the 2016 USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Championship Team (6-1), which held China (4-3) scoreless for the last 3:34 of the game, to earn a 65-50 victory and win the bronze medal at the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship on Saturday evening in Zaragoza, Spain.
“I really like the way we came out and jumped on them and played pretty well and took a decent lead going into halftime,” said USA head coach Dori Oldaker (Mt. Lebanon H.S., Pa). “Then we let them get back in the game. We are like the cardiac kids. But, down the stretch we really pulled it together and went on some nice runs. They really executed well tonight in our offenses, and it showed. I thought our pressure really showed when we pressed China. I thought it kind of wore them down.”
Leading by 10 points at halftime, the U.S. lead was only three points headed into the fourth quarter and just two points, 50-48, with 5:33 remaining in the game when the USA called a timeout.
Taylor Mikesell (Jackson H.S./Massillon, Ohio) made a 3-pointer out of the break and Maya Dodson (St. Francis H.S./Alpharetta, Ga.) converted on a three-point play at 3:59 to give the USA a 56-48 advantage. China scored, but then Olivia Nelson-Ododa (Winder-Barrow H.S./Winder, Ga.) and Dodson made baskets, and China called its final timeout with 1:47 remaining and the USA ahead 60-50.
“I thought we played really well,” Mikesell said. “I thought we fought back with a lot of resiliency after losing the game that we did against Australia. I thought we played really well together, and we all wanted it really bad.”
The U.S. defense made four more stops while Mikesell hit another 3 and Janelle Bailey (Providence Day School/Matthews, N.C.) made two free throws to give the USA a 65-50 win.
“Both teams were coming off of losses, so we knew it was going to be very competitive,” Bailey said. “We wanted to win this and to go home with a medal.”
Both teams struggled to connect early in the game, with the USA shooting 5-of-19 (.263) from the field and China even colder at 2-of-13 (.154). Including points from four different players, the USA led 11-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Each team made a 3-pointer to start the second quarter, and after another 3 by Samantha Brunelle (William Monroe H.S./Ruckersville, Va.), the USA led 18-12 with 5:14 remaining before halftime. China cut it to 18-16 at 3:37, but from there the USA went on a 10-0 run to lead 28-16 when Williams stole the ball and made a layup with 30 seconds remaining. China made the last basket of the first half to bring the score to 28-18 at the midway point.
The USA pulled ahead by 14 points, 36-22 with 6:38 on the clock in the third quarter, and then led 38-25 at 6:02 before China made its first of two runs in the period. China put together a 6-0 run to make it 38-31 with 4:24. The USA worked its way back to an 11-point lead, 46-35, when Prince made a free throw with 2:06 on the clock. China, however, reeled off eight unanswered points to pull within three points, 46-43 headed into the final 10 minutes.
Mikesell led the USA with 15 points and was 5-of-9 from 3-point; Dodson added 12 points; Nelson-Ododa just missed a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds; and Bailey contributed 11 rebounds to go with six points.
Two individual competition records were set by U.S. players. Aquira DeCosta (St. Mary’s H.S./Stockton, Calif.) set a USA U17 record for rebounds (71), and Christyn Williams (Central Arkansas Christian/Little Rock, Ark.) was 15-of-15 from the free throw line to set a free throw percentage record.
The USA is now 29-1 all-time in FIBA U17 World Championship play and has captured one bronze medal and three gold medals.
The USA’s assistant coaches were Dianne Lewis (Thomas Edison H.S., Va.) and Samantha Quigley (University of St. Francis, Ill.).