USA U18 Women Surge Past Puerto Rico 104-36 Into Gold Medal Game
The 2016 USA Women’s U18 National Team’s (4-0) defense starred in its 104-36 win over Puerto Rico (2-2) in the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship on Saturday night in Valdivia, Chile, giving up just three points in the second quarter to take control of the game.
With the win, the USA advanced to the gold medal game, where it will take on the winner of tonight’s 8:15 p.m. (EDT) game between Canada (3-0) and Brazil (2-1).
The gold medal game will be played at 8:15 p.m. (EDT) on July 17, while Puerto Rico will meet the loser of Canada – Brazil in the bronze medal game at 6 p.m. (EDT).
While the U.S. defense held Puerto Rico to just 36 points, its offense was in high gear, tallying 53 of its points off of fast break opportunities.
“This team is fun to coach,” said USA head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio (Pittsburgh). “They play hard and make plays. We’ve had a balanced scoring attack with different leading scorers every night. We have really been clicking on all cylinders, and we hope that continues going into tomorrow night.”
The game was tied at eight-all in the first quarter before the USA put together six straight points to lead 14-8 with 3:15 on the clock. Puerto Rico scored the next three points, but the USA closed with by outscoring Puerto Rico 9-3 to lead 23-14 after the first 10 minutes. Lauren Cox (Flower Mound H.S./Flower Mound, Texas) grabbed 10 of her 13 rebounds in the first quarter.
“We played really well,” said Cox, who also had 10 points and four blocked shots. “We were really moving the ball well and working together. We pushed the ball and got out in transition.”
The USA’s modest nine-point lead ballooned to a 31-point advantage by the end of the third quarter as the USA held Puerto Rico to just three points, including one field goal and one made free throw. Meanwhile, the USA recorded points from seven different U.S. players to lead 48-14 at halftime.
Puerto Rico never again threatened the USA’s lead as the USA went on to outscore Puerto Rico 27-10 in the third quarter and 29-9 in the fourth.
“We just stayed with our system, and we moved the ball well, and we never let up,” said Tyasha Harris (Heritage Christian/Noblesville, Ind.), who dished out nine assists. “We just kept going and playing our game.”
Chennedy Carter (Timberview H.S./Mansfield, Texas) led the USA in scoring with 17 points and four assists; Sidney Cooks (Saint Joseph Catholic Academy/Kenosha, Wis.), Valerie Higgins (Chaminade College Prep/Granada Hills, Calif.) and Megan Walker (Monacan H.S./Chesterfield, Va.) each added 11 points; and Dana Evans (West Side Leadership Academy/Gary, Ind.) finished with 10 points.
“We played well,” Carter said. “We moved the ball and got open shots. Everybody was on tonight, everybody was hitting, and we just looked for the open man, and we got the job done tonight.”
The USA, which compiled a 61-29 rebounding advantage, forced Puerto Rico into 26 turnovers, which it converted into 38 points, and 59 of the USA’s points were scored by non-starters.
In the classification semifinals, Mexico (2-2) beat Guatemala (0-4) 65-38, and Chile (1-3) topped Venezuela (1-3) 54-49.
Venezuela and Guatemala will meet in the seventh place game at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) on July 17, while Chile and Mexico will play for fifth place at 3:45 p.m. (EDT).
The USA’s assistant coaches are Kamie Ethridge (Northern Colorado) and Charlotte Smith (Elon).