USA U17 Women Outpace Mali 92-39
The 2018 USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Cup Team (2-0) limited Mali (0-2) to just 22.8 percent shooting (13-57 FGs) while making 50.6 percent (39-77 FGs) of its shots in a 92-38 rout at the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup on July 22 in Minsk, Belarus.
The USA will close preliminary round play against China (1-1) at 11:15 a.m. EDT on July 24, and the game will be available to watch live online at Facebook.com/USABasketball and YouTube.com/FIBAWorld.
Azzi Fudd (St. John’s College H.S., D.C./Arlington, Va.) led the USA with 18 points; Fran Belibi (Regis Jesuit H.S./Centennial, Colo.) scored 15 points on 7-of-7 shooting from the field and collected six rebounds and three steals; Aliyah Boston (Worcester Academy/St. Thomas, USVI) was 5-of-5 from the field on her way to 11 points and three assists; Charisma Osborne (Windward School/Moreno Valley, Calif.) rounded out the USA’s double-digit scorers with 10 points, six rebounds and three assists.
“We shared the ball really, really well,” said Carla Berube, USA U17 and Tufts University head coach. “The ratio of field goals made to assists was really high. I loved seeing that. We did well defensively in the first half. We really got out there and created some turnovers or shot-clock violations, some contested shots. So, I was pleased with that. But, we came out of the locker room a little sluggish in the third quarter, but that second group came in and really brought the energy.”
“It was a lot of fun today,” said Fudd, who shot 4-of-6 from 3-point. “We moved the ball really well as a team. We play really well together as a team. There’s no one person that feels like they have to do all of it. We all have confidence in each other. We all know that if we pass and make the next pass, they’ll do the same for us.”
Overall, the USA dished out 32 assists. Arguably more impressive than having 11 players register in the scoring column, 10 of the U.S. team members passed out no less than two assists apiece, led by five from Jordan Horston (Columbus Africentric Early College/Columbus, Ohio) and four from Hailey Van Lith (Cashmere H.S./Wenatchee, Wash.).
“We shared the ball tremendously tonight,” said Samantha Brunelle (William Monroe H.S./Ruckersville, Va.), who passed off for three assists to go with seven points and four boards. “Throughout the whole bench, no matter who was in there were so many passes. The ball was worked around and we got great shots."
The first quarter saw the USA score 20 of its 29 points in the paint, and the Americans led 29-9.
Opening the second quarter with a 17-0 run, its largest unanswered string of the game, the USA sprinted ahead 44-9. Mali ended its scoring drought midway through the second period, but at halftime, the USA had pushed its advantage to 59-18 – shooting a sizzling 61.0 percent (25-41 FGs)from the field in the first half.
Mali outpaced the USA 9-3 coming out of the halftime break, but the USA closed the third quarter with a 12-3 spurt and was up 74-30 with 10 minutes to play. The Americans went up by as many as 56 points (86-32) and won the fourth quarter 18-9 to earn the 92-39 victory.
“Honestly, we lost a little focus at the start of the second half,” said Belibi. “We came in feeling really good about ourselves at halftime, and then we came out and we didn’t really keep the same intensity we had at the beginning. Our focus just wasn’t there. We had a different mindset. But, we came in and we had a little time out, a little substitution, and we got back on track.”
The Americans held Mali’s top two players, 6-foot-2 Sika Kone and 6-foot-1 Aminata Sangare, who each notched a double-double in their opening game against China, to a total of 15 points and 14 rebounds. Kone finished with nine points and three boards, and Sangare had six points and 11 rebounds.
In all, the U.S. squad scored 35 points on 24 Mali turnovers and held a 50-36 advantage on the glass. The USA outscored Mali 50-14 on points in the paint, 17-5 points in transition and 44-19 points off the bench.
The USA and China met in an exhibition contest on July 14 in Latvia, where the USA rolled to a 106-48 victory.
“They have some very good players,” Belibi said. “We just have to keep up our defensive mentality and keep playing the way USA Basketball plays, with the same intensity. We already know them and we have a little bit of confidence coming in, knowing we’ve already beaten them. But, we have to make sure that we remember that any team can come out on any day and beat anyone. We have to come out with the same focused mentality that we always come out with.s
In other Group B play today, Italy (1-1) defeated China (0-2) 72-57. In Group A, France (1-0) and Colombia (0-1) square off at 1 p.m. EDT, and Belarus (1-0) takes on Japan (0-1) at 1:30 p.m. EDT. Group C games featured Hungary (2-0) defeating New Zealand (0-2) 68-60, and Argentina (1-1) earning a 76-67 overtime victory over Spain (1-1); while in Group D, Canada (1-0) plays Angola (0-1) at 11:15 a.m. EDT, and Australia (1-0) and Latvia (0-1) tipped off at 10:45 a.m. EDT.
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.
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. Including its first two victories in Minsk, the USA is now 31-1 all-time in the five 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).