USA U16 Women Reach Gold Medal Game With 103-30 Win Over Puerto Rico
The USA Basketball Women’s U16 National Team (5-0) once again was propelled by its defense in a 103-30 win over Puerto Rico (2-3) in the semifinals of the 2019 FIBA Americas U16 Championship on Friday night at Polideportivo arena in Puerto Aysen, Chile.
The U.S. will face also-unbeaten Canada (5-0) in Saturday’s gold medal game at 8:15 p.m. EDT. Puerto Rico and Chile (3-2) will play in the bronze medal game at 6 p.m. EDT. All games will stream live online at YouTube.com/FIBA and Facebook.com/USABasketball.
The USA held Puerto Rico to just 19.4% from the field (13-67 FGs), forced 30 turnovers and won the rebounding battle 65-36.
Offensively, five U.S. players reached double-digit scoring, and Olivia Miles (Blair Academy/Phillipsburg, N.J.) set a USA women’s U16 record with 11 assists.
“We are going to be good, because we are really good in the half court on defense,” said USA head coach Mark Campbell (Union University). “We dominated the glass, and we shared the basketball. Olivia made some unbelievable passes tonight that are really just outside of things that people normally see. We just have a group of people that are really unselfish, and they play really hard.”
Lauren Betts (Grandview H.S./Centennial, Colo.) led all scorers with 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds; Janiah Barker (Tampa Bay Tech H.S., Fla./Marietta, Ga.) scored 15 points and hauled in a game-best 13 rebounds; Saylor Poffenbarger (Middletown H.S./Middletown, Md.) added 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists; and Aaliyah Moore (Moore H.S./Moore, Okla.) and Payton Verhulst (Bishop Meige H.S./De Soto, Kan.) chipped in 10 points apiece.
Puerto Rico managed to keep within range of the USA in the first quarter, which finished with the USA leading 18-9.
“We definitely started slow,” Poffenbarger said. “We didn’t start very intense on defense. And kudos to them. I think they were really prepared.”
The U.S. opened the second period on a 14-2 run to pull away 32-11 with 6:48 to play, and by the midway point the U.S. was up 41-20.
The USA compiled its largest scoring quarter of the tournament thus far with a 37-6 third quarter, and then outscored Puerto Rico 25-4 in the fourth period for the 103-30 win.
“We started off kind of rocky, but we came together at halftime, and we played better after that,” said Timea Gardiner (Fremont H.S./Ogden, Utah). “We changed our intensity, and our energy and our defense. Our defense fires our offense in transition, and that is what we are good at. So, we try to do our best on defense to get stops.”
In the classification games, Brazil (2-3) topped Mexico (1-4) 49-39, and Ecuador (2-3) beat El Salvador (0-5) 59-26. Ecuador and Brazil will play for fifth place at 3:30 p.m. EDT, and El Salvador and Mexico will play for seventh place at 1:15 p.m. EDT.
As the top four finishing teams, the USA, Canada, Chile and Puerto Rico, qualified for the 2020 FIBA U17 World Cup that will be played in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
The USA’s assistant coaches are Kelly Carruthers (James Bowie H.S., Texas) and Ruth Sinn (University of St. Thomas, Minn.).