USA Women’s U16 National Team Cruises Past Puerto Rico, Into Semifinals
The 2017 USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team (3-0) easily defeated an overmatched Puerto Rico (0-3) team 79-32 on June 9 to wrap up preliminary round play undefeated at the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship at CENARD in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
As the No. 1 seed out of Group B, the USA will play the No. 2 seed from Group A, Argentina (2-1) in the medal semifinals at 7:30 p.m. (all times listed are EDT) on June 10, live on YouTube.com/FIBA. The other semifinal will feature the No. 1 seed from Group A, Canada (3-0), against the No. 2 seed from Group B, Colombia (2-1).
All four semifinal teams secured a berth into the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup.
The semifinal winners will compete for a gold medal on June 11, while the losers will battle for bronze.
Despite the USA shooting just 30.9 percent from the field (29-94 FGs) and turning the ball over 27 times, the USA used its size and athleticism to earn a 70-38 rebounding advantage, to score 24 second-chance points, tally 30 points in transition and force Puerto Rico into 43 turnovers, which resulted in 45 U.S. points.
The USA also set a U.S. women’s U16 record for steals with 25, while Aliyah Boston (Worcester Academy/Worcester, Mass.), who finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds, tied the record for free throw percentage with her 5-of-5 performance from the line.
“We got the win. It was not our best basketball, but we had some really great possessions,” said USA head coach Carla Berube (Tufts University). “I think in the first and the fourth quarter, we played really great defense. We missed a lot of shots, but they were good shots, nothing that was forced or out of our offense. Days are going to happen like that. I thought the energy was there. We played hard and came away with a victory.
“Now, we are on to the games that mean a lot,” Berube said of the semifinal matchup.
The USA started off by scoring the game’s first 11 points and led 15-5 at the first quarter break.
It’s largest run of the game, 12-straight points, came in the second quarter, kicked off by two made free throws from Boston at 8:50 to make it 19-7 and capped off by a steal and fastbreak layup from Paige Bueckers (Hopkins H.S./Eden Prairie, Minn.) that brought the score to 29-7 with 5:47 remaining before halftime.
The USA had a 35-15 lead at the midway point, and the margin continued to grow throughout the game.
The largest lead of the game, 47 points, came off of the final score, which was a layup from Kylee Watson (Mainland Regional H.S./Linwood, N.J.) with 1:04 left in the game.
For the first time, all 12 players scored in the game as the USA recorded the 79-32 win.
Bueckers finished with 12 points; and Caitlin Clark (Dowling Catholic H.S./West Des Moines, Iowa) and Azzi Fudd (Potomac School/Falls Church, Va.), who also grabbed five steals, each dished out four assists.
“I thought was pretty good for the most part,” said Clark. “We didn’t shoot very well, but I thought our defense was good for the most of the game. But, we need to come out with more energy when we play either Canada or Argentina. We just need to pick it up, and our shots will fall eventually.”
Puerto Rico’s Marieliz Martinez scored 14 points.
Earlier today, in the USA’s Group B, Colombia (2-1) secured its No. 2 seed with a 45-41 win over Mexico (1-2), marking the first time Colombia has qualified for a FIBA U17 World Cup. In Group A, Venezuela (1-2) beat Dominican Republic (0-3) 70-50.
The classification semifinals will see Venezuela play Puerto Rico at 12:45 p.m., and Mexico versus Dominican Republic at 3 p.m. The winners of those games will play for fifth and sixth places in June 11, and the losers will meet in the seventh/eighth place game.
Steve Gomez (Lubbock Christian University) and Vanessa Nygaard (Windward School, Calif.) complete the USA staff as assistant coaches.