USA U19 Women Into Quarterfinals with 79-61 Victory Over Germany
Following a close first half, the USA Women’s U19 World Cup Team (4-0) outscored Germany (0-4) 23-14 in the third quarter and went on to claim a 79-61 round of 16 victory at the FIBA U19 World Cup on Wednesday afternoon in Bangkok, Thailand.
Next up for the American women is a quarterfinal clash against Canada (3-1) on July 26 (3:30 a.m. EDT). Canada advanced by virtue of an 82-50 win over Argentina (1-3) earlier in the day. The game will be available live online at Facebook.com/USABasketball or YouTube.com/FIBA.
Celeste Taylor (Long Island Lutheran/Valley Stream, N.Y.) scored 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field and registered five steals; Paige Bueckers (Hopkins H.S./St. Louis Park, Minn.) also recorded out 13 points on 6-of-10 from the field and had five assists; Queen Egbo (Baylor/Houston, Texas), Rhyne Howard (Kentucky/Cleveland, Tenn.) and Hailey Van Lith (Cashmere H.S./Wenatchee, Wash.) each added nine points apiece.
Naz Hillmon-Baker (Michigan/Cleveland, Ohio) hauled in a game-high 10 rebounds, including six offensive boards, to go with six points.
“I expected this to be a good ballgame,” said Jeff Walz, USA U19 and University of Louisville head coach. “Germany’s a good team. I’ve watched them play three games. They were 0-3 before today, but they lost each of them by seven points, and all three were very good basketball games. So, the way they played didn’t surprise me. They did a really nice job being physical with us, trying to dictate what they wanted to do in the first half instead of allowing us to dictate to them. The way the game started, we turned them over, but we couldn’t convert. And when you turn someone over, but you can’t turn that into points, it really doesn’t matter. That got to us a little bit. Then we missed some shots and got a little lethargic because the ball wasn’t getting into the basket. That’s something we have to fix.”
The USA took an early 8-3 lead but Germany, which captured the 2018 U18 European Championship gold medal, wouldn’t back down and with 2:00 left in the first period, held a 17-11 advantage. The Americans closed out the first quarter by shooting 4-of-6 from the line and pulled to 17-15 at the end of the opening 10 minutes of play.
In the first quarter, Germany outrebounded the USA 18-10 and held the red, white and blue, which entered the game shooting 32.3% from afar, to 0-of-4 from beyond the arc.
“When we first started the game, we were kind of slow,” said Egbo. “When he started making subs, energy was something I wanted to bring. I feel like Celeste brought that also. When we were in there together, I felt like there were a lot of good things happening. I definitely feel that sometimes we lose focus of what our biggest goal is. But we all have to lock in and remember why we’re here, what we came on this trip for.”
Germany expanded its lead to 22-17 early in the second period before Caitlin Clark (Dowling Catholic H.S./West Des Moines, Iowa), who scored six points on the USA’s only 3s of the game, connected on a 3, sparking an 11-0 run that left the USA on top 28-22 with six minutes to play before halftime.
The Europeans answered by knocking down back-to-back 3s in a 6-2 spurt that closed the gap to 30-28 at 4:31.
Stringing together a 10-0 run, the Americans seemed to be pulling away again, but Germany scored the final five points of the half and the USA went to the locker room up 40-33.
Germany’s first half scoring was bolstered by hitting 7-of-13 3s and the Germans also owned a rare advantage over the USA on the glass, 27-23.
“We had a hard time on the offensive end in the first half,” said Taylor. “Defensively we struggled a little bit also, but we picked it up and started talking and communicating, speaking through those screens and tough switches. Overall, I thought we did a pretty good job of making an improvement on the defensive end in the second half.”
Early in the third quarter the USA’s lead stood at just four points, 42-38, but a 14-2 run in which four different players scored, the Americans created some separation, gained momentum and their lead never dropped below double digits. By the end of the third quarter the USA was up 63-47.
Winning the fourth quarter 16-14, the U.S. went ahead by as many as 20 points before claiming the 79-61 win.
After connecting on a mere 28.6% (4-14 FGs) of its field goals in the first quarter, the USA closed the game shooting 42.8% (30-70 FGs) from the field overall, compared to Germany's 33.8% (22-65 FGs).
Taking control in the paint gave the USA an advantage as it outscored Germany 40-22 on the block and outscored the Europeans 22-8 on second-chance points. Further, the USA forced 25 turnovers, 19 of which were steals, and converted those miscues into 31 points whereas Germany scored just seven points off of the USA’s 13 turnovers.
“We have to keep getting to the offensive glass,” said Walz. “We have to convert long shots, long misses, into offensive baskets. We ended up with 17 offensive rebounds and scored 22 points off of those. I was really pleased with that. So, we took good 3s, the shots were good ones. We want to get into a rhythm where we’re going inside-out so it’s an easier 3.”
“It’s always good to have a game like that to get us refocused after beating teams by a lot,” added Taylor. “It’s just a realization for us that every time we step on the floor, people are going to give us the best that they have every single time. So, we have to go out there and give it everything we’ve got as well.”
In other round of 16 games today, Mali (1-3) stunned Latvia (3-1) 67-34 to advance to an historic first quarterfinal game in U19 World Cup history for a team from Africa. Australia (3-1) downed Colombia (1-3) 62-53, Japan (3-1) bypassed Hungary (1-3) 76-68 and Belgium (4-0) remained unbeaten with a 88-47 victory over host Thailand (0-4), China (3-1) blew past Mozambique (1-3) 71-28 and Spain (4-0) fought hard for a 60-51 win over South Korea (0-4).
In addition to the USA-Canada contest, matched up in the July 26 medal quarterfinals are Mali-Australia, Japan-Belgium and China-Spain.
“Canada is really intense,” said Ashley Joens (Iowa State/Iowa City, Iowa), who played against Canada at the 2018 FIBA Americas U18s. “They will pressure the ball. It’s going to be a good game, but we just have to keep on fighting. They won’t quit, so we’ll have to stick to our game plan and keep on playing how we know how to play.”
The semifinals will be played on July 27, and the gold and bronze medal games on July 28.
Walz is being assisted by collegiate head coaches Natasha Adair (Delaware) and Cori Close (UCLA).
Originally known as the FIBA Junior World Championship, the tournament was held every four years starting in 1985. FIBA changed its calendar in 2005 and now conducts the U19 World Cup every other year.
Including its four wins in Bangkok, USA women’s teams are now 83-13 in U19/Junior World Cups and own a record seven gold medals in addition to one silver medal and one bronze medal in the 12 previous U19 World Cups.