USA Women’s U16 National Team Fights Off Argentina For 98-42 Win
The 2017 USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team (4-0) played its way into the gold medal game of the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship with an impressive 98-42 win over host Argentina (2-2) on Saturday night at CENARD in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The USA led 17-13 after the first 10 minutes and 40-27 at halftime, but it was in the second half that the North American squad ran away with the game. With 3:58 left in the third quarter, the USA mounted a 39-0 run that saw its defense hold Argentina scoreless from 4:33 in the third quarter until 4:31 in the fourth quarter – at total of 10:02.
The USA will meet also-undefeated Canada (4-0) in the gold medal game at 7:30 p.m. (all times listed are EDT) on June 11, live on YouTube.com/FIBA. Argentina and Colombia (2-2) will play for the bronze medal at 5:15 p.m.
“That was a really, really fun game to be a part of and to coach,” said USA head coach Carla Berube (Tufts University). “It was a balanced attack, one through 12, doing it first on the defensive end, and then getting out on the break and making plays for each other and kicking it out to shooters, offensive rebounding. Just a total team effort. It was great to win against a tough Argentina team. The first half was a grind, and then we opened it up with our defense and our intensity on that end of the floor.”
One day after setting the USA women’s U16 record for single-game steals with 25 against Puerto Rico (0-4), the U.S. team set a new high against Argentina, tallying 27 steals, which led to 44 U.S. points. The U.S. also set a record for free throws attempted with 37.
All 12 U.S. players had scored by the end of the third quarter, and five U.S. players finished in double-digit scoring.
Zia Cooke (Rogers H.S./Toledo, Ohio) and Celeste Taylor (Long Island Lutheran H.S./Valley Stream, N.Y.) each had 12 points; Caitlin Clark (Dowling Catholic H.S./West Des Moines, Iowa) and Jordan Horston (Columbus Africentric Early College/Columbus, Ohio) added 11; and Samantha Brunelle (William Monroe H.S./Ruckersville, Va.) had 10 points.
“We all played well,” Horston said. “We played together, we played strong and we had a lot of energy. We knew it was going to be hard, because we were playing Argentina in front of their home crowd. We knew it was going to be rowdy. We knew we had to stay together and stay focused.”
Argentina came within four points twice in the second quarter, and the score was 26-22 with 4:31 remaining before halftime. The USA responded outscoring Argentina14-5 and led 40-27 at halftime.
The second half was all USA. Holding on to a 53-36 advantage, the USA launched its 39-0 run. Seventeen of those points closed out the third quarter, and the USA lead 70-36 heading into the final period.
“We settled down the crowd a lot,” Taylor said. “I think that gave us even more momentum to keep going, and keep pushing and keep fighting, even though we were up.”
The USA carried that momentum into the fourth period and scored 22 more points before Argentina made a free throw at 4:33, which brought the score to 92-37.
Excluding free throws, the USA did not allow Argentina a made field goal for 16:29, from 6:37 left in the third quarter until 0:08 left in the fourth quarter.
“One through 12, we played really, really great,” said Diamond Miller (Franklin H.S./Somerset, N.J.), who had eight points and a game high seven rebounds. “We have confidence going into the gold medal game. We are just really excited.”
The USA also compiled a 51-38 rebounding advantage, 25 second-chance points and 49 points off of the bench.
Sofia Acevedo and Victoria Gauna each scored 12 points for Argentina.
The USA scrimmaged Canada in a friendly contest on the day it arrived in Argentina on June 5, recording an 86-64 win.
The USA twice has played Canada in women’s U16 competition, and both meetings were gold medal games. The USA recorded an 82-48 win in 2013 and a 103-52 victory in 2009.
“We started this trip here in Argentina scrimmaging them, and we’ve watched them a couple of times,” Berube said of Canada. “They have some really talented athletes and basketball players. So, we’ll get focused and get a game plan ready, and hopefully execute it and come away from this great country with a gold medal around our necks.
In the classification semifinals, Venezuela (2-2) beat Puerto Rico (0-4) 62-61, and Mexico (2-2) cruised past Dominican Republic (0-4) 102-45. On June 11, Puerto Rico will play Dominican Republic in the seventh/eighth place game at 12:45 p.m., while Venezuela will meet Mexico in the fifth/sixth place game at 3 p.m.
Steve Gomez (Lubbock Christian University) and Vanessa Nygaard (Windward School, Calif.) complete the USA staff as assistant coaches.