USA Women Collect Record 39 Steals in 117-23 Win Over Chile to Kick Off FIBA Americas U16 Play
Getting 21 points and a USA women’s U16 record 10 steals from JuJu Watkins (Sierra Canyon H.S./Los Angeles, Calif.), the USA Women’s U16 National Team (1-0) saw all 12 players score in a lopsided 117-23 win over Chile (0-1) in its first game of the 2021 FIBA Americas U16 Championship on Monday evening in Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico.
The USA set a U.S. women’s U16 team single-game record with 39 steals and tied the U.S. record for field goals made (52-93 FGs).
“I was very pleased with our defensive intensity,” said USA head coach Sue Phillips (Archbishop Mitty H.S., Calif.). “We caused a lot of disruption defensively that led to a high offensive output and high offensive efficiency rating. So, I was really pleased with our defensive intensity. And we didn’t put them on the free throw line with that kind of energy and defensive pressure, so kudos to the team for really coming out and playing hard.”
The USA’s defense propelled its offense, including the red, white and blue getting 63 points off of 46 Chile turnovers, and 90 of its point in the paint.
“It felt great,” said Watkins, who also had seven rebounds and tied the USA women’s U16 record for single-game field goals made (9). “Personally, I had a lot of nerves coming in. It's my first time playing for USA, so I'm very proud. And I'm glad that we came out together as a team and did well, moved the ball around and played good defense.”
Jadyn Donovan (Sidwell Friends School, D.C./Upper Marlboro, Md.) contributed 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field; Breya Cunningham (La Jolla Country Day School/Chula Vista, Calif.) added 13 points and was 6-of-6 from the field; Jada Williams (La Jolla Country Day/San Diego, Calif.) scored 12 points; and Delaney Thomas (St. John's College H.S./Charles Town, W.Va.) rounded out the USA’s top scorers with 10 points.
“We definitely focused on defense,” Donovan said. “That was our main goal, just applying a lot of pressure, being a good defensive team and keeping it to a low scoring game.”
The USA went ahead 11-0 to start the game, and Chile responded with back-to-back 3-pointers, which turned out to be its only points of the first quarter. After Chile made it 11-6, the USA closed with 26 unanswered points to go ahead 37-6 after the first frame.
That U.S. run totaled 35-straight points as it extended into the second quarter, and the USA led 46-6 before Chile scored its first basket of the second period at 5:28. After 13 more points from the USA, Chile scored the final basket of the first half, and at the midway point the USA advantage was 59-10.
The USA did not let up in the second half, committing just six turnovers while it added 14 more steals.
The USA outscored Chile 33-9 in the third quarter and 25-4 in the fourth period to earn the 117-23 win.
Madison Booker (Germantown H.S./Ridgeland, Miss.), Kendall Dudley (Sidwell Friends School, D.C./Manassas Park, Va.) and Thomas each grabbed six rebounds as the USA outrebounded Chile 57-25 overall.
The USA will continue preliminary round play against host Mexico at 9:30 p.m. EDT on Aug. 24, followed by Argentina at 6:30 p.m. EDT on Aug. 25.
“It felt really good,” Donovan said of taking the court for the USA’s first game. “It feels like we were practicing forever. So, to get on the court and finally show everyone what we've been working on for the last two weeks, it felt really good. We were super excited. I think you could see it in the game that we played. We were definitely excited and had a lot of energy.”
Argentina and Mexico will play in today’s 9:30 p.m. EDT game, while earlier today, Canada (1-0) beat Brazil (0-1) 82-56 and Puerto Rico (1-0) earned a 60-45 victory against Costa Rica (0-1).
Following the preliminary round, all eight teams will advance to the quarterfinals on Aug. 27, and those winners will meet in the semifinals on Aug. 28. The semifinal winners will play in the gold medal game at 9:30 p.m. EDT on Aug. 29, and the semifinals losers will meet in the bronze medal game at 6:30 p.m. EDT on Aug. 29.
The top four teams will qualify for the 2022 FIBA U17 World Cup.
The USA’s assistant coaches are Tom McConnel (Indiana University Pennsylvania) and. Sophia Witherspoon (Fort Pierce Central H.S., Fla.).