USA U16 Women Capture Gold Medal With 91-46 Win Over Canada
A 20-0 run to close the second quarter helped propel the 2017 USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team (5-0) to a 91-46 win over Canada (4-1) in the gold medal game of the 2017 FIBA Americas U16 Championship at CENARD in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“We just kept getting stop after stop,” said USA head coach Carla Berube (Tufts University). “In the first quarter, I thought we allowed them to get a lot of easy drives. They were getting to the rim on us. In the second quarter, we really shut that down and got some important defensive rebounds, and that was leading to easy offense. When you get stop after stop, it’s hard to sustain us in transition, because we have athletes and players who can make plays in transition and make plays for each other. It was awesome to watch. For a team that has not been together very long, they worked really well together.”
Aliyah Boston (Worcester Academy/Worcester, Mass.), who finished with 15 points and six rebounds against Canada and averaged team-highs of 11.8 points and 8.6 rebounds per game throughout the USA’s five wins, was named MVP of the tournament.
“We came together well as a team, and we just made shots,” said Boston. “Our energy picked up in the second quarter. We played better defense, and that led to great offense.”
Argentina (2-2) outlasted Colombia (2-2) 59-52 in overtime to earn the bronze medal. The USA, Canada, Colombia and Argentina all qualified for the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup.
The U.S. defense held Canada to just 29.0 percent shooting from the field (18-62 FGs) and forced 31 Canadian turnovers, which the USA converted into 36 points.
Azzi Fudd (Potomac School/Falls Church, Va.) led the USA with 18 points; Zia Cooke (Rogers H.S./Toledo, Ohio) also had 15 points; Paige Bueckers (Hopkins H.S./Eden Prairie, Minn.) added 11; and Diamond Miller (Franklin H.S./Somerset, N.J.) contributed 10 points.
“It just feels amazing and humbling,” Bueckers said. “I just feel so blessed to be able to work with these coaches and these great players.”
The USA led by as many as 10 points in the first quarter, 22-12, but Canada outscored the USA 9-5 in the last 2:30 of the period, and the USA led 27-21 at the break.
It was just three minutes into the second quarter when the U.S. defense buckled down as its offense heated up. A score from Jordan Horston (Columbus Africentric Early College/Columbus, Ohio) at 7:02 kicked off 20 straight points for the USA, while its defense held Canada scoreless, and the USA led 50-25 at halftime. Overall, the USA allowed Canada just four points in the period.
“We came out pretty sluggish in the first quarter, but in the second quarter we picked it up and built our momentum,” Horston said.
The USA continued to build its lead throughout the game, and its largest lead of the game, 91-43, came in the final minute. Canada converted a three-point play with 29.2 seconds on the clock to bring the game to its 91-46 final.
“It feels awesome. We are excited to be bringing gold back to the USA,” Berube said. “I owe so much to my staff, just game-planning and getting the team ready. The team worked so hard. We gave them a lot in a short amount of time, and they executed and came together both on and off the court. That’s what it is all about, and when you have that work ethic and you have the team jelling, good things happen.”
The team broke two USA women’s U16 competition records, including most 3-pointers attempted (118) and most steals averaged (20.4). Individually, Cooke set a U.S. women’s U16 competition record for 3-point field goal percentage (.636, 7-11 3pt FGs); Samantha Brunelle (William Monroe H.S./Ruckersville, Va.) set a record for free throw percentage (.933, 14-15 FTs); and Fudd tied the record for steals (3.4 spg.).
The USA U16 Women are now own a 24-1 all-time record and have captured gold in four of the five FIBA Americas U16 Championships since the competition was started in 2009.
In the classification games, Mexico (3-2) finished fifth with a 71-28 win over Venezuela (2-3), which earned sixth place, and Puerto Rico (1-4) topped Dominican Republic (0-5) 76-69 to finish in seventh and eighth place, respectively.
Steve Gomez (Lubbock Christian University) and Vanessa Nygaard (Windward School, Calif.) complete the USA staff as assistant coaches.