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Bella Alarie

U.S. Pan Ams Women’s Basketball Team Edges Past Puerto Rico 62-59, Advances to Gold Medal Game

  • Date:
    Aug 9, 2019

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In a hard-fought game that featured 17 lead changes and eight tied scores, the 2019 U.S. Pan American Games Women’s Basketball Team (4-0) held off a determined Puerto Rico (2-2) squad for a 62-59 semifinal victory on Friday night in Lima, Peru. 

The USA will meet also unbeaten Brazil (4-0), which defeated Colombia (2-2) 62-48 in the other semifinal, in the gold medal game at 10 p.m. EDT on Aug. 10 (all games are available on ESPN3).

Colombia will play Puerto Rico for the bronze medal at 7 p.m. EDT.

Throughout the contest neither team managed to lead by more than five points, and the USA was behind 57-56 with 2:32 to play.

From there, Tyasha Harris (South Carolina/Noblesville, Ind.) pulled up for two points, Bella Alarie (Princeton/Bethesda, Md.) scored an offensive rebound and Chennedy Carter (Texas A&M/Mansfield, Texas) and Alarie each added a free throw to help the seal the win.

Puerto Rico missed its final 3-point attempt, which would have tied the game.

“That is what you expect in a semifinal game – everybody  wants to play for that gold,” said USA head coach Suzy Merchant (Michigan State). “Puerto Rico has two tremendous players. We didn’t really have an answer for (Jennifer) O’Neill. I thought we did a pretty good job on (Jazmone) Gwathmey – she had to work for everything, and we got her in foul trouble. They are hard to guard, because they space the floor. They don’t have a true center, so everybody is interchangeable, and that made it difficult.

“I was proud of our kids. Down the stretch we made some big plays, made some free throws, got some stops and rebounds – all the little things you had to do. Even if we made a mistake, we made up for it on the next play.”

Beatrice Mompremier (Miami/Miami, Fla.) and Carter scored 14 points apiece to help power the U.S. to victory. Mompremier also finished with 12 rebounds for the game’s only double-double.

Kathleen Doyle (Iowa/Lagrange Park, Ill.) and Michaela Onyenwere (UCLA/Aurora, Colo.) added eight points apiece.

“We just came out and worked hard,” said Mompremier, who had all 14 of her points in the first half. “We battled, and we were tough.”

The USA outrebounded Puerto Rico 37-32 and outscored the islanders 21-12 in the paint. It also shot 39.1% (27-69 FGs) from the field, but held Puerto Rico to an even lower percentage at 35.0% (21-60 FGs).

Kiana Williams (Stanford/San Antonio, Texas) dished out a USA high four assists.

Puerto Rico’s first five-point lead came in the first quarter, when it jumped ahead 9-4 to start the game. The USA responded to take a 16-13 lead at 2:30, but after the first 10 minutes, Puerto Rico led 21-18.

In the second quarter, the USA put together a 9-2 run midway through the period and led 33-29 with 49.0 seconds on the clock, before Puerto Rico sank two free throws to make it 33-30 in the USA’s favor at halftime.

Puerto Rico opened the second half with a 10-2 stretch and went up 40-35, but the USA closed with 15 points to Puerto Rico’s six to lead 50-46 headed into the final quarter.

Puerto Rico did outscore the USA 13-12 in the fourth, but the USA made crucial stops to earn the win.

“I’m not surprised,” Doyle said of the USA’s close contest. “At this point in the tournament, everyone is a really great team, and we have to bring our A game every time.

“I have confidence in all my teammates that they are going to make those free throws, and they both did a good job of knocking down the second one. It gave us a little room to breathe, and we got stops when we needed to.”

Earlier today in the seventh place game, Paraguay (1-3) beat U.S. Virgin Islands (0-4) 69-61; while in the fifth place game, Argentina (2-2) defeated Canada (1-3) 59-54.

The USA’s assistant coaches are Felisha Legette-Jack (Buffalo) and Vic Schaefer (Mississippi State).

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