USA U19 Women Put On 81-46 Defensive Show Against Canada, Cruise into Semifinals
Behind a smothering defensive effort, the USA U19 women (5-0) allowed just 16 first half points and rolled to a dominating 81-46 victory over Canada (3-2) in FIBA U19 World Cup quarterfinal play on Friday afternoon in Bangkok, Thailand. The win advanced the U.S. to the U19 World Cup semifinals for the ninth time in the past nine editions of the event.
Rhyne Howard (Kentucky/Cleveland, Tenn.) scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field; Queen Egbo (Baylor/Houston, Texas) registered a double-double, scoring 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds; Hailey Van Lith (Cashmere H.S./Wenatchee, Wash.) tallied nine points and three assists; and Caitlin Clark (Dowling Catholic H.S./West Des Moines, Iowa) added nine points and three steals.
“We did exactly what we have to do in order to win,” said Jeff Walz, USA U19 and University of Louisville head coach. “We know we have to dictate everything with our defense. When you only get three and a half weeks to work together, your half-court offense is not going to be great. So, you’ve got to bring the energy on the defensive end, try to create as many scoring opportunities that you can. And I thought we did a great job of that tonight.”
Spotting Canada a 4-2 lead in the opening minutes, Van Lith and Howard hit back-to-back 3s, sparking a 22-1 scoring spree and the red, white and blue never looked back.
“Canada is a good team and we knew that they were going to be aggressive, so we wanted to throw the first punch and keep it going while we had the momentum,” said Howard, who scored nine points in the first quarter.
At the end of the first quarter, the USA was ahead 26-9 on 64.7% (11-17 FGs) field goal shooting while holding Canada to a meager 18.8% (3-16 FGs) from the field, despite allowing Canada to score six points on the USA’s seven turnovers.
“It was a great energy game for us,” said Van Lith. “We came out ready and got the first punch. That’s what we knew we needed to do to get on top and we took care of business.”
“In the first quarter we only forced them into six turnovers and we actually turned it over seven times,” said Walz. “But we got them playing at a pace that they normally don’t like to play at and that’s a benefit to us. We knew if we could get the game going up and down the floor like we did, good things would happen.”
The USA continued to push the tempo in the second quarter, which opened with an 11-2 USA burst, and outscored Canada 24-7 in the second stanza for an insurmountable 50-16 halftime lead.
In the first half the U.S. held a commanding 27-10 rebounding advantage and hit a red-hot 62.9% (18-27 FGs) of its field goal attempts. On the defensive end, the USA turned Canada over 14 times for 19 points and held the Canadians to a frigid 20.7% (6-29 FGs) shooting. Further, all nine U.S. players who checked in by halftime put points on the board in the first 20 minutes.
“It was amazing,” said Naz Hillmon-Baker (Michigan/Cleveland, Ohio) of the halftime score. “Honestly, we were playing so hard and so fast that we didn’t even keep track of the score. We came in at halftime and were like, ‘I didn’t even know the score looked like that.’ Being able to play our tempo is a lot of fun because we get into our sets, everybody runs it, moves the ball and get some touches. So, it was great to come out with that kind of energy.”
.@usabjnt 🇺🇸 cruising up 50-16 on CanBball 🇨🇦 at halftime in their #FIBAU19 Quarter-Final! @howard_rhyne with 14 points already on 6/8 shooting 💪— FIBA (@FIBA) July 26, 2019
📊 https://t.co/VCHARchF78 pic.twitter.com/MDxlnVUv63
The USA eased up in the second half and cruised in for the eventual victory.
By the end of the game, the USA’s rebounding advantage grew to 52-29. Overall, the U.S. outscored Canada 58-26 points in the paint, 18-6 on second-chance points and 40-17 points off the bench. The USA finished the game with a 50% (26-72 FGs) field goal percentage and Canada improved to 30.6% (19-62 FGs).
“We need to stay focused and keep the same pressure,” said Howard on what her team needs to do to win its final two games. “We need to come out like we did in the first half, keep moving the ball and getting everyone involved.”
Added Van Lith, “You can’t overlook anybody. You have to win every possession. We know these next games are going to be battles and we just hope we come out on top.”
The USA will face the winner of the Japan (3-1) versus Belgium (4-0) quarterfinal game, which tips-off later this morning (8:30 a.m. EDT) in the July 27 semifinals (time TBD). The finals will be played July 28. Both the semifinal games and the bronze and gold medal games will be available live online on ESPN+.
“Both Belgium and Japan are playing really well right now,” said Walz after the USA’s game. “We’re looking forward to watching them tonight. We had the opportunity to scrimmage Japan twice, so we are comfortable with their personnel. And if it’s Belgium, it’ll be the first time playing them and they’re a very good, disciplined team. No matter who we play, it will be a tough game and we’re going to have learn and adjust as the game goes on.”
Also advancing to the semifinals are Australia (4-1), which defeated Mali (1-4) 63-51, and Spain (5-0), which clipped China (3-2) 55-52.
In classification play, Colombia (2-3) edged Latvia (3-2) 49-46, South Korea (1-4) defeated Mozambique (1-4) 63-50, Thailand (0-5) fell to Hungary (2-3) 85-58 and Argentina (1-3) squares off against Germany (0-4) at 6:45 a.m. EDT).
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 five wins in Bangkok, USA women’s teams are now 84-13 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.