USA U16 Women Defeat Host Chile 109-44
The USA U16 Women’s National Team (2-0) had another impressive FIBA Americas U16 Championship performance with a 109-44 victory over host Chile (2-1) on June 18 at Polideportivo Arena in Puerto Aysen, Chile.
After leading by just eight points at the end of the first quarter, 24-16, the USA gave up just five points in the second period while scoring 26 points to take control of the game’s momentum in an arena that was filled with Chilean fans.
“I have coached in a lot of games, a little over 700, and the atmosphere tonight is in the top two or three that I’ve ever coached in,” said USA head coach Mark Campbell (Union University). “I told Chile’s coach after the game, they do a really good job of being prepared. Their girls understand spacing, they are unselfish, they make extra passes. They play together in a way that is like a veteran team. They take a lot of pride in it. And likewise, their crowd celebrates good basketball. They went through a stretch in the third quarter when they didn’t score until there was maybe 1:30 left, and the crowd went crazy. What they are appreciating is the most important thing, and that’s effort.
“And then secondly, I thought we really handled it well. We came out, they shot the ball really well the first five minutes, and we kind of played through it. We handled the ball a lot better in the second half.”
All 12 U.S. team members put points on the board by the end of the third quarter, and four athletes finished the game with double-digit scoring, including Payton Verhulst (Bishop Meige H.S./De Soto, Kan.), who led the team with 21 points; Lauren Betts (Grandview H.S./Centennial, Colo.), who posted 16 points, a USA U16 women’s record 16 rebounds and five blocked shots; Sonia Citron (The Ursuline School/Scarsdale, N.Y.), who also scored 16 points; and Janiah Barker (Tampa Bay Tech H.S., Fla./Marietta, Ga.), who added 15 points and grabbed 10 boards.
“I’m just really thankful,” Betts said of her single-game rebounding record. “I think it is an honor to represent like that and do that after all those amazing players who have played in this competition.”
Kiki Rice (Sidwell Friends School, D.C./Bethesda, Md.) dished out six of the USA’s 27 assists and Olivia Miles (Blair Academy/Phillipsburg, N.J.) added five.
The USA outrebounded the hosts 77-23 and shot 44.7% (38-85 FGs) from the field while holding Chile to 22.6% (14-62 FGs).
“We definitely were nervous, because of the crowd,” Verhulst said. “But when we started communicating and talking and just having fun and not being nervous about making mistakes, that is when we do our best and succeed.”
The USA gave up just two points in the third quarter, which Chile scored with 1:16 left in the period, but Chile continued to play hard throughout and nearly matched the USA’s 23 fourth-quarter points with 21 to bring the game to its 109-44 final.
“It was unbelievable, just the atmosphere,” said Aaliyah Moore (Moore H.S./Moore, Okla.), who finished with eight points and eight rebounds. “Chile, they were down, but it seemed like their whole country was here still cheering them on. I’ve never experienced anything like that before in my life, so that was awesome.”
The USA scored 23 points off of Chile’s 27 turnovers and outscored Chile 36-0 on second-chance points, 54-8 in points in the paint and 47-14 in points off the bench.
The USA’s assistant coaches are Kelly Carruthers (James Bowie H.S., Texas) and Ruth Sinn (University of St. Thomas, Minn.).
The USA closes out preliminary play on June 19 against Mexico (1-1) at 8 p.m. EDT. That matchup originally was set for June 16 but was rescheduled due to travel issues for Mexico. All games will stream live online at YouTube.com/FIBA and Facebook.com/USABasketball.
In the other Group B game today, Mexico defeated El Salvador (0-3) 73-25. In Group A, Canada (3-0) earned the top spot with an 83-40 victory over Puerto Rico (1-2) and Ecuador (1-2) downed Brazil (1-2) 71-55. Based on point differential, Puerto Rico finished as Group A’s second-place team, Ecuador finished third and Brazil finished in fourth place.
Following the preliminary round, all eight teams advance to the quarterfinals on June 20. The quarterfinal winners will advance to the medal semifinals that will be played on June 21, and the finals will be played on June 22.
The quarterfinal losers will play out through fifth through eighth places in the classification semifinals and finals on June 21 and 22, respectively.
The top four finishing teams at the 2019 FIBA Americas U16 Championship qualify for the 2020 FIBA U17 World Cup that will be played in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.