All Gold for USA Women’s U16 National Team, Which Beats Canada 87-37
With impressive performances from the first game through the gold medal game, the USA women (6-0) handily defeated Canada (5-1) 87-37 to capture the gold medal at the 2019 FIBA Americas U16 Championship on Saturday night at Polideportivo arena in Puerto Aysen, Chile.
In capturing gold for a second consecutive FIBA Americas U16 Championship, the USA women now have claimed gold in five of the six editions of the event, and the USA improved its all-time U16 women’s record to 30-1.
The USA, which trailed just once in its six games (5-4 versus Chile on June 18), rolled to a perfect record and in the process compiled dominating statistics. USA head coach Mark Campbell's (Union University) team averaged 103.0 points a game, limited opponents to just 32.5 points a game, and the Americans' average margin of victory was 70.5 points a game, which is the largest margin of victory for any USA women’s U16 team.
“They were ready today,” Campbell said. “We got to meet this afternoon and share our feelings about each other, and I’ve always believed once people know how you feel about them, you are going to get everything from them. It was very clear, they felt very strongly about one another, and we as a coaching staff feel very strongly about them, and so it showed in how they played.”
Eleven of the USA's 12 players scored, and three reached double-digit scoring in Saturday's win.
Guard Payton Verhulst (Bishop Meige H.S./De Soto, Kan.), who averaged a team-high 14.5 points per game, was named MVP of the 2019 FIBA Americas U16 Championship. Joining Verhulst on the five-woman FIBA Americas U16 All-Tournament Team were the USA’s Lauren Betts (Grandview H.S./Centennial, Colo.) and Sonia Citron (The Ursuline School/Scarsdale, N.Y.), as well as Canada’s Isaline Alexander and Chile’s Fernanda Ovalle.
“It means everything,” Verhulst said of her MVP award. “Every single person on our team could have won this award. I’m just so thankful that they picked me, and I couldn’t imagine any other team to go out and win this gold medal with.”
Verhulst led the USA offense in the win over Canada, scoring 18 points (9-13 FGs). Citron contributed 13 points, and Saylor Poffenbarger (Middletown H.S./Middletown, Md.) added 10 points. Betts helped the USA dominate the glass by a 54-37 margin and pulled in a game-best 14 rebounds to go with six points. She finished the tournament averaging a USA women’s U16 record 13.5 rebounds per game. Olivia Miles (Blair Academy/Phillipsburg, N.J.) added a game-best eight assists for the USA and finished averaging a USA women’s U16 competition record 7.5 assists a game (45 assists).
“We were really just trying to make sure that we rebounded well,” Betts said. “That is was one of Canada’s biggest strengths. We really pressured well. We all worked together. We really wanted it, so we just made sure that we worked hard together as a team.”
From the opening tip of the gold medal game, the USA was in full control. The U.S. scored the game's first 17 points and Canada's first points in the contest came with 1:59 remaining in the opening quarter. The U.S. led 24-2 after the first 10 minutes of the gold medal game, and, impressively, limited Canada to 1-for-13 shooting from the field, while forcing 10 turnovers.
The USA had no letup in quarter two. Outscoring Canada 21-12, the USA headed into the locker room at halftime owning a 45-14 advantage, and 10 of the 12 USA team members had scored.
Expanding its lead to 70-23 after out producing Canada 25-9 in the third period, the USA rolled on in for the 87-37 win.
The USA, which shot 46.3 percent from the field for the night, limited Canada to just 23.0 percent shooting from the field, and forced Canada into 28 turnovers.
“All the hard work that we have been through, all the dedication we have had, I felt like we just left it all out on the floor and gave it our all,” said Londynn Jones (Santiago H.S./Riverside, Calif.).
In addition to Betts’ rebounding and Miles’ assists record, 11 other USA women’s U16 records were set. Verhulst set USA U16 women’s competition records for field goals made (38) and attempted (75); Janiah Barker (Tampa Bay Tech H.S., Fla./Marietta, Ga.) set a high for field goal percentage 66.7 (20-30 FGs); and Jones set the mark for 3-point attempts (38).
As a team, the USA set U.S. women’s U16 competition records for points (618), field goals made (252), field goals attempted (512), field goal percentage (.492), 3-point attempts (140), rebounds (379) and assists averaged (26.5).
“In a day and age when we value results, they are about the right things, too, and they are just really talented,” Campbell said of his team. “The longer I coach, the more I value the things that are inside more than the things that are outside, and this group is just full of the things that are inside.”
In the bronze medal game, Chile (4-2) defeated Puerto Rico (2-4) 59-49; in the fifth place game, Ecuador (3-3) beat Brazil (2-4) 59-47; and in the seventh place game, Mexico (2-4) won against El Salvador (0-6) 61-38.
The top four finishing teams at the 2019 FIBA Americas U16 Championship, including 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 were Kelly Carruthers (James Bowie H.S., Texas) and Ruth Sinn (University of St. Thomas, Minn.).