USA U18 Women Down Colombia 83-47 to Advance to Gold Medal Game
A 17-0 run to close the second quarter gave the 2018 USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team (5-0) the momentum it needed to go on to defeat Colombia (3-2) 83-47 and advance to FIBA Americas U18 Championship gold medal game on Monday evening at Juan de la Barrera gym in Mexico City.
The USA will meet also-undefeated Canada (5-0) in the gold medal contest at 9:30 p.m. EDT on Aug. 7, which will be available to watch live online at Facebook.com/USABasketball.
By virtue of their top four finishes, the USA, Argentina (3-2), Canada and Colombia all qualified for next summer’s 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup.
The USA led by just one point, 19-18, after the first quarter, and the second quarter saw two tied scores before the USA trailed 26-25 with 5:06 on the clock.
A 3-pointer from Ashley Joens (Iowa State/Iowa City, Iowa) launched the 17-0 run, which included another 3 from Joens, five points from Nazahrah Hillmon-Baker (Michigan/Cleveland, Ohio) and two 3-pointers from Rhyne Howard (Kentucky/Cleveland, Tenn.), and the USA led 42-26 at halftime.
“It was a great basketball game,” said USA head coach Jeff Walz (Louisville). “We knew it was going to be competitive, and it was one that we needed, because we needed to understand when you have breakdowns, either physically or mentally, good teams take advantage of that. And that’s what Colombia did a fantastic job of – they really hurt us when we had breakdowns.
“And then we had different players step up, and that’s what is so exciting about this, everybody is capable of playing big for us. I thought that group that was out there for us at the end of the first half really gave us a big boost that we needed, and then we were able to continue. It something we have to learn from and continue to grow, and hopefully take another step forward tomorrow night.”
Colombia fought back to cut it to 11 points in the third quarter, 51-40, with 4:54 to play in the period, but the USA closed by outscoring Colombia 7-1 to lead 58-41 with only the fourth quarter remaining.
The final period was all USA. Opening with a 9-0 stretch, the USA outscored Colombia 25-6 to seal the 83-47 semifinal win.
Jenna Brown (Stanford/Smyrna, Ga.) led the USA in scoring with 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting; Joens and Howard each contributed 14 points; and Olivia Nelson-Ododa (Connecticut/Winder, Ga.) added 12 points.
“That is what I was impressed with – when it was a little tight in the beginning, we just kept pushing forward and kept sticking to our principles,” Brown said. “We knew what we needed to do to win the game.”
With the USA owning a 61-33 rebounding advantage, Maori Davenport (Charles Henderson H.S./Troy, Ala.) led the way on the glass with 11 rebounds; while Howard and Anaya Peoples (Schlarman H.S./Danville, Ill.) each dished out five of the USA’s 19 assists.
“We played as a team today,” Davenport said. “We dug deep and gave it our all for each and every single teammate.”
With the win, the USA, which has won eight-straight gold medals at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship, is now 58-2 all-time in FIBA Americas U18 Championship play.
In the classification semifinals earlier today, Puerto Rico (2-3) beat El Salvador (0-5) 70-56, and Chile (1-4) edged past Mexico (1-4) 71-69.
In tomorrow’s bronze medal game, Colombia will play Argentina at 7:30 p.m. EDT. In the classification finals, Puerto Rico and Chile will play for fifth place at 5 p.m. EDT, while El Salvador and Mexico will compete for seventh place at 3 p.m. EDT.
The USA’s assistant coaches are Natasha Adair (Delaware) and Cori Close (UCLA).