USA Women’s U17 World Cup Team Cruises Past China 106-48 in Exhibition Play
The 2018 USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Cup Team (1-0) never trailed, ran out to a 27-12 lead after the first quarter and then rolled to a 106-48 exhibition victory over China (0-1) on Saturday evening in Liepaja, Latvia. The game was the USA’s first of three in preparation for the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup, which will be held July 21-29 in Minsk, Belarus.
The USA’s top two scorers combined for 31 of the team’s 57 points off the bench, including Charisma Osborne (Windward School/Moreno Valley, Calif.), who hit 3-of-5 from 3-point and finished with a game-high 16 points, and Zia Cooke (Rogers H.S./Toledo, Ohio), who posted 15 points and three assists.
Also scoring in double digits were Paige Bueckers (Hopkins H.S./St. Louis Park, Minn.) and Jordan Horston (Columbus Africentric Early College/Columbus, Ohio), who added 11 points apiece; and Fran Belibi (Regis Jesuit H.S./Centennial, Colo.) chipped in 10 points.
“We came out with a lot of energy” said Carla Berube, USA U17 and Tufts University head coach. “The work ethic on the defensive end is really what we’ve been preaching. It led to some easy baskets on the offensive end. We did a good job sharing the ball and just making plays by attacking, getting to the free-throw line, attacking the offensive boards, getting a lot of second-chance opportunities. It was good. It was a great, balanced scoring attack as well. We had great contributions off the bench.
“There’s going to be a lot of things for us to work on in the next two weeks,” Berube continued. “We’ve talked about how we need to start the second half the way we started the first. It didn’t quite happen, but that’s something we need to focus on, making sure we have that same energy. And, when we do have a lead, not being complacent and really keep building on that and valuing each possession on both ends of the court.”
Aliyah Boston (Worcester Academy/St. Thomas, USVI), who grabbed a game-best 14 rebounds and scored nine points, and Haley Jones (Archbishop Mitty H.S./Santa Cruz, Calif.), who notched nine points, each dished out five of the USA’s 22 assists.
“They are amazing players,” said Cooke, referring to Belibi and Boston. “It’s an honor to get to play with them. They’re amazing. They get the rebounds, they look out and they see us open, and we reward them by getting them the ball back.”
“That was great, especially being able to play with those girls; everyone is so talented,” said Osborne, who played in her first game for the red white and blue tonight. “I have good teammates, and they all helped us new kids out. I just tried to do what I do, play defense and do whatever I can for my team.
“Zia really got our offense going from off the bench, and then Haley (Jones) and Jordan (Horston) with their passing, that helped everyone get into an offensive flow,” Osborne added.
The USA’s defense was on point from the start and allowed just eight Chinese field goals in the first half and 11 in the second half.
Breaking an early 3-3 tie, the USA, receiving points from all five starters, jumped out to an 11-4 lead. With the Americans up 13-7, the U.S. squad tallied an 8-0 run on its way to the 27-12 lead.
Outscoring China 24-10 in the second quarter, the USA headed into the locker room at halftime holding a 29-point lead.
China never recovered as the U.S. won the third quarter 30-16 and outscored China 25-10 in the fourth to bring the game to a close.
Holding China to a frigid 29.2 (19-65 FGs) from the field, including 20.0 percent (4-20 3pt FGs) from beyond the arc, the USA held a commanding 63-26 rebounding advantage and outrebounded China 27-11 on the offensive end.
The Americans outscored China 58-24 points in the paint, 20-7 on second-chance points, 17-4 in transition and 57-27 off the bench.
“It was pretty good to be able to get together to play these games,” said Cooke. “We played really well, our defense was good and as a team we played really good together. All I can say is that what we do in practice, we bring straight in the game. That’s the reason why things looked so easy for us, we work hard in practice and just transfer it to the game.”
Host Latvia (1-0) earned a 62-47 victory over Canada (1-0) in the night’s second game. The USA continues its exhibition schedule in the Latvia U17 International Invitational on July 15 against Latvia (12:30 p.m. EDT) and closes against Canada on July 16 (10 a.m. EDT).
“For us to keep going against each other day in and day out, it’s nice to see other teams,” added Berube. “ And they’re quality teams, too. Having these three games in Latvia is going to be good. It’s a good test to see where we’re at, what we need to get better at before we get to Minsk and the games are real.”
Arriving in Minsk July 17, the team will continue preparations through July 20 for its July 21 opening game against Italy (8:15 a.m. EDT). The USA will face Mali on July 22 (8:30 a.m. EDT) and China on July 24 (time TBD). All 16 teams advance to the July 25 round of 16, and winners will advance to the July 27 quarterfinals. Medal semifinals will be held July 28, and the gold medal will be contested July 29.
In addition to host Belarus, nations competing in the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup are: Angola, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Hungary, Japan, Latvia, New Zealand and Spain.
Berube is being assisted by Lubbock Christian University head coach Steve Gomez and Winward School (Calif.) head coach Vanessa Nygaard.
FIBA U17 World Cup for Women
The FIBA U17 World Cup for Women, which is held every two years, originated in 2010. The USA captured the 2010 FIBA U17 World Cup gold medal. Also claiming gold in 2012 and 2014, the USA's winning streak at the FIBA U17s was halted in 2016 by eventual gold medalist Australia in the semifinal game. The USA, however, rebounded to claim bronze with a 6-1 record. The USA is now 29-1 all-time in the four editions of the event.
Some of the players who have competed for USA Women’s U17 National Teams include: Lindsay Allen (2012), Diamond DeShields (2012), Rebecca Greenwell (2012), Joyner Holmes (2014), Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (2010), Ariel Massengale (2010), Olivia Nelson-Ododa (2016), Mercedes Russell (2012), Katie Lou Samuelson (2016), Breanna Stewart (2010), Christyn Williams (2016) and Elizabeth Williams (2010).