USA U17 Women Defeat Canada 87-56, Close Exhibition Schedule Unbeaten
All 12 players again scored as the 2018 USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Cup Team (3-0) closed out its exhibition schedule with an 87-56 victory over Canada (1-2) to take the title at the 2018 Latvia U17 International Invitational on Monday night in Liepaja, Latvia.
Jordan Horston (Columbus Africentric Early College/Columbus, Ohio) tallied team-highs of 13 points and eight rebounds; Zia Cooke (Rogers H.S./Toledo, Ohio) posted 12 points and a game-best four assists; and Paige Bueckers (Hopkins H.S./St. Louis Park, Minn.) and Haley Jones (Archbishop Mitty H.S./Santa Cruz, Calif.) chipped in 10 points apiece.
Aliyah Boston (Worcester Academy/St. Thomas, USVI), who finished with seven points and nine rebounds, and Horston were named to the All-Star Five. They were joined by Canada’s Donna Ntambue, China’s Liu Yutong and Latvia’s Ketija Vihmane.
China (1-2) defeated Latvia (1-2) 85-54 in the second game of the day to set up a three-way tie for second place. After the tie breaker, China finished second, Canada third and Latvia finished in fourth place. The four teams utilized the exhibition tournament as preparation for the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup, which will be held July 21-29 in Minsk, Belarus.
“Canada is a very athletic team, and they were in the passing lanes,” said Carla Berube, USA U17 and Tufts University head coach. “They’re long and play well together on the defensive end. They made us turn the ball over and play a little more frantic than we would like. So, the credit goes to Canada. They’re a strong team, and we hope that they do well next week in Belarus.
“When we play a little bit more disciplined on the defensive end, we can make things happen and make things happen in the break, make good plays for each other. I also thought we did a good job of executing what we wanted to, and making shots. We have some playmakers and we have to get the ball to those players.”
The USA never trailed and won every quarter. However, despite outrebounding Canada 48-33 and forcing 26 turnovers, the U.S. squad was never able to fully shake its neighbor to the north.
Gaining a 26-13 lead after the first quarter, behind 11 points from Horston, the USA was up 11 points, 28-17, early in the second period before stretching its lead to 37-19. Canada countered with a 5-0 spurt to pull to 37-24, but the red, white and blue closed out the first half by outscoring Canada 12-5 to claim a 20-point halftime lead, 49-29.
A series of turnovers and missed shots by the USA to open the second half allowed Canada to score seven-straight points in the first 1:35 of the stanza, closing the gap to 49-36. That was as close as Canada would get for the remainder of the contest.
The U.S. followed with a 15-4 run to stake a 64-40 lead with 2:48 showing on the third-quarter clock. By the end of the period, the USA led 67-44 and outscored Canada 20-12 in the fourth quarter to bring the game to a close.
“We knew Canada was a good team,” said Horston. “They’re scrappy. They’re rivals, so everybody was pumped up for the game, and we’re happy that we got the win. When we went back and forth with them, I feel like that was good for us. It set us back on our heels and made us think about how we have to adjust to different teams. Adversity is always good for a team. I’m just happy that we went out 3-0. Now we’re headed to Belarus, which is something we look forward to.”
“We fell into playing their game,” said Bueckers. “They play a really fast, up-tempo game. Then we started playing that way, and we got out of control. We had 21 turnovers, and that’s just not how we play. We just need to focus and play our game, because nobody plays it better. We need to take care of the ball and not let anybody else dictate what we do.”
The U.S. scored 30 points off Canada’s turnovers, but gave up 16 points on its 21 miscues. The USA, which shot 47.1 percent (33-70 FGs) from the floor, held the Canadian squad to just 35.0 percent (21-60 FGs) overall and an icy 18.3 percent (2-11 3pt FGs) from 3-point.
“It definitely opened up our eyes that if we don’t play our best, it could hurt us,” added Bueckers. “We will get good games. We know that there are some even better teams than Canada going into Belarus. So, if we don’t play our best game we will get beat.”
The USA travels to Minsk on July 17, where the team will continue training through July 20, which includes a July 18 scrimmage against Australia and a July 19 scrimmage against France.
Opening U17 World Cup play on July 21 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 (11:50 a.m., EDT). The preliminary games will be streamed live online at on YouTube.com/FIBA.
“I’m excited to head to the U17 World Cup this week,” said Berube. “We start off on Saturday against Italy, and there’s a lot to look forward to.”
All 16 teams in the U17 World Cup advance to the July 25 round of 16, and winners will compete in 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 and the USA, nations competing in the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup are: Angola, Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Mali, 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).