USA U19 Women Easily Defeat Puerto Rico 104-46
The 2017 USA Women’s U19 World Cup Team (4-0) used its size and went inside early and often, to overpower Puerto Rico (0-4) 56-12 in the paint and sprint to a 104-46 victory in the FIBA U19 World Cup round of 16 on Wednesday night in Cividale del Friuli, Italy.
The USA was never threatened in the contest, as all 12 players scored, including 21 points and nine rebounds from Ruthy Hebard (Oregon/Fairbanks, Alaska).
Tyasha Harris (South Carolina/Noblesville, Ind.) dished out a USA women’s U19 single-game record 10 assists, which previously stood at nine and was tied by Crystal Dangerfield (Connecticut/Murfreesboro, Tenn.) in the USA’s game on July 25.
“It was more of my teammates being open,” said Harris of her record. “I was seeing them, and they were finishing the plays. It was more of a team effort than an individual one.”
Also reaching double-digit scoring were Joyner Holmes (Texas/Cedar Hill, Texas) with 13 points and 11 rebounds; Alecia Sutton (Texas/Austin, Texas), who added 12 points; Christyn Williams (Central Arkansas Christian School/Little Rock, Ark.), who tallied 11 points and five rebounds; and Chennedy Carter (Timberview H.S./Mansfield, Texas), who scored 10 points. Additionally, Bella Alarie (Princeton/Bethesda, Md.) had nine points and collected 11 rebounds.
The USA outrebounded Puerto Rico 72-37 overall and 38-18 on the offensive glass. The 72 boards marked a single-game USA U19 record, eclipsing the previous record of 70 set against Japan in 2013.
“We definitely had the height advantage over this team, but if anything, we crashed the boards every time,” said Alarie. “We didn’t let up on the glass. We just went for every ball possible. It was good hustle and energy by our team to try to get every board.”
Next up for the U.S. is a clash against France (3-1) in the July 28 quarterfinals (time TBD).
Also advancing to the medal quarterfinals were undefeated Canada (4-0), Japan (4-0) and Russia (4-0), along with France (3-1) and Australia (3-1), and the winners of today’s final games featuring China (2-1) versus Egypt (1-2) and host Italy (1-2) against Spain (2-1).
The medal semifinals will be held July 29, and the gold and bronze medal games are slated for July 30.
“Coming into today, this was about us getting back on track, playing like we are capable of playing, with multiple people scoring the basketball, controlling the boards, defending like we need to defend,” said USA U19 and University of Pittsburgh head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio. “This game was all about us and a focus on execution and playing with a lot of energy at both ends of the floor.”
Stringing together a 7-0 game-opening run, the USA jumped out to a 25-5 lead before the game was eight minutes old and was up 31-10 by the end of the first stanza.
Puerto Rico scored the second quarter’s first five points to make the score 31-15, but a 14-3 U.S. run put the game virtually out of reach, 45-18. The U.S. continued its offensive onslaught and by halftime was up 54-22.
“We just wanted to come out with a lot of energy, and I think we did that,” said Hebard. “When we have fun, and play hard, we can break those records. Shout out to Ty (Harris) for getting those assists. She works super hard.”
Scoring 21 second-chance points in the first half, the USA utilized its three-inch average height advantage to dominate the boards 44-15 by halftime, including 28-6 on the offensive glass, and outscored Puerto Rico 34-4 in the paint in the first half.
The USA continued to expand the gap and won the third quarter 31-10 and the fourth quarter 28-14 for the 58-point victory.
“We had an advantage inside, and we looked to attack them early inside,” said McConnell-Serio. “Ruthy (Hebard) got us off to a great start. She was running the floor, so we were able to go inside. She even stepped out and hit a 3. It was a play we drew up for her to get that outside shot, because everything she got earlier was around the rim. She’s one of our top shooters in shooting drills. It was just a game where we felt we had an advantage size-wise, so we wanted to dominate the boards at both ends. We got on the offensive glass to give ourselves second and third chances.”
In all the United States women scored 26 points off of 17 Puerto Rican turnovers, while not allowing the islanders to capitalize on the USA’s eight miscues. Dishing out 31 assists, the USA shot 42.4 percent (39-92 FGs) on the night, including 35.7 percent (10-28 3pt FGs) from 3-point. In contrast, Puerto Rico was held to a frigid 23.5 percent (16-68 FGs) from the floor and 24.2 percent (8-33 3pt FGs) from afar.
Additionally, the USA outscored Puerto Rico 33-7 on second chance points, 21-3 in transition and 51-6 off the bench.
“They are competitors,” said Williams of France, her team’s next opponent. “We scrimmaged them, and they were pretty tough. But, we can do it. We will have to work together, like we did tonight, and we will be fine.”
In other games today, Japan defeated South Korea (0-4) 86-47, Canada dropped Mexico (0-4) 64-43, France utilized a 20-12 fourth quarter to bypass Hungary (1-3) 73-58, Australia edged Latvia (1-3) 61-56 and Russia rolled over Mali (0-4) 90-66.
McConnell-Serio is being assisted by collegiate head coaches Kamie Ethridge from the University of Northern Colorado and Charlotte Smith from Elon University.
FIBA U19 World Cup for Women
Six-time defending FIBA U19 World Cup gold medalists, the USA is hoping to make it a lucky seven in a row at the 12th FIBA U19 World Cup, held July 22-30 in Cividale del Friuli and Udine, Italy.
Originally known as the FIBA Junior World Championship, FIBA changed the names of its age-based world championships in 2005 to reflect the age of eligibility, and recently updated the names of all of its world championships to world cups. The tournament was held every four years starting in 1985. FIBA in 2005 modified its calendar and now conducts the U19 World Cup every other year. Including its four victories in 2017, USA women's teams are 77-12 in U19/Junior World Cups, capturing a sixth-consecutive gold in 2015 with a 7-0 record.
Notable players to represent the USA at the FIBA U19 World Championship include: Alana Beard (2001), Essence Carson (2005), Tamika Catchings (1997), Bria Hartley (2011), Crystal Langhorne (2005), Jantel Lavender (2007), Lisa Leslie (1989), Rebecca Lobo (1993), Maya Moore (2007), Nnemkadi Ogwumike (2009), Vickie Orr (1985), Cappie Pondexter (2001), Katie Smith (1993), Dawn Staley (1989), Azurá Stevens (2015), Breanna Stewart (2011 and MVP of the 2013 U19 World Championship), Diana Taurasi (2001), Morgan Tuck (2011 and 2013) and A’ja Wilson (2013 and MVP of the 2015 U19 World Championship).