USA U18 Women Open with 87-42 Rout Over Argentina
Allowing Argentina (0-1) to shoot just 22.8 percent from the field (13-57 FGs), the 2018 USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team (1-0) let its defense lead the way in an 87-42 win to open its play in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship on Aug. 1 at Juan de la Barrera gym in Mexico City.
The USA forced 30 turnovers, which it converted into 26 points, while it shot a sizzling 60.0 percent from the field (36-60 FGs) on the offensive end.
“It was great to be able to get out there and compete,” said USA head coach Jeff Walz (Louisville). “The players were excited. We were running around at times, playing hard, but not real smart at all times, but their effort was great. So, if we can continue to clean some things up, both offensively and defensively and play with that type of intensity, good things can happen.”
The USA, which was in control from start to finish, got 13 points and four assists from Aijha Blackwell (Whitfield School/Berkeley, Mo.); 13 points and six rebounds from NaLyssa Smith (Baylor/Converse, Texas); a game-high five assists from Jenna Brown (Stanford/Smyrna, Ga.); and a game-best nine rebounds from Sedona Prince (Texas/Liberty Hill, Texas).
“As a team we played hard,” Blackwell said. “We kept each other motivated, and we kept pushing. I don’t think we gave up on any plays. We just played really hard throughout the entire game.”
The USA’s first eight baskets were scored by eight different players, which helped it jump ahead 16-4 after a 10-0 run early in the game, and the USA led 18-8 at the first break.
In the second quarter, the USA held Argentina scoreless for a 6:30 stretch while it compiled 15 unanswered points to go ahead 35-11. After each team scored twice more, the USA led 38-15 at halftime.
Although Argentina managed to break into double-digit scoring in the second and third quarters, the USA was not slowed down – outscoring Argentina 23-12 in the third and 26-15 in the fourth to secure the 87-42 win.
The USA also compiled a major advantage on the glass – collecting 53 rebounds to Argentina’s 27 – it turned the ball over 27 times and shot just 42.9 percent from the free throw line (12-28 FTs).
“We all executed,” Smith said. “We just have to cut back on the turnovers and make sure we are putting the ball in the basket more.”
The USA next will take on Chile at 3 p.m. EDT on Aug. 2, before wrapping up its preliminary round games against Puerto Rico at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Aug. 3. Both games will be available to watch live online at Facebook.com/USABasketball.
“I think our chemistry is definitely getting there,” Brown said. “We haven’t played a ton of games together yet; we’ve only been together for about two weeks, but it was feeling good, especially in the second half.”
In today’s other games, Puerto Rico (1-0) beat Chile (0-1) 74-69, and Canada (1-0) topped Colombia (0-1) 73-49 while in tonight’s late game, host Mexico (0-0) will take on El Salvador (0-0) at 9:30 p.m. EDT.
The USA’s assistant coaches are Natasha Adair (Delaware) and Cori Close (UCLA).