USA U19 Women Take Down Australia 99-59 at FIBA U19 World Cup
After a balanced battle in the first quarter, Caitlin Clark (University of Iowa/West Des Moines, Iowa) helped the USA women (2-0) open things up in the second quarter, making four 3-pointers during a 17-0 run that helped spur the USA to a 99-59 win over Australia (1-1) at the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup in Debrecen, Hungary.
“When she (Clark) has the mindset to not only score the ball efficiently, but also to create easier scoring opportunities for a teammate, now that makes her elite,” said USA head coach Cori Close (UCLA). “She can really shoot it and she was really hot in that second quarter, but she is throwing so much credibility when she’s at the same time finding her teammates for easy shots.”
The USA had four players record double-digit scoring efforts in the win. Clark led the way with a near triple-double with 24 points, nine rebounds and a team-high seven assists, and Lauren Betts (Grandview H.S./Centennial, Colo.) had a double-double off the bench with 17 points and a team-high 12 rebounds. Sonia Citron (The Ursuline School/Scarsdale N.Y.) added 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists, and Diamond Johnson (NC State/Philadelphia, Pa.) tallied 12 points, three rebounds and two steals.
The USA won the second quarter 27-15, securing a 15-point lead (52-37) going into halftime.
Clark finished the first half with 20 points on 5-of-9 (.556) shooting from 3-point, five rebounds and four assists. Betts also had a strong first half with eight points and seven rebounds.
“Today was honestly just a team win, and I think everyone contributed in some way,” said Betts. “I'm just really proud of our effort on defense and rebounding. We were super aggressive with them, and we didn't back down at all to their aggressiveness, so it was honestly just about energy today.”
The Americans kept their energy high in the second half outscoring the Australians 20-14 in the third quarter and 27-15 in the fourth quarter. The USA went on another 17-0 run with less than a minute to go in the third quarter and held Australia scoreless until 4:37 in the fourth quarter, limiting the Aussies to 10 points in the final stanza.
“I think we came out hot, our defense was locked in and that’s when we made our runs,” said Clark. “I thought we shared the ball super well and had quite a few assists. When we are getting stops and then get fast break points that’s when we are at our best. So, it definitely starts on defense for us.”
The USA forced Australia to 17 turnovers, resulting in 25 points, and won the rebounding differential 55-42. The Americans also outscored the Aussies in the paint 46-24, in bench scoring 50-30 and in fast break points 17-4.
“Australia is a really good team, and we have a lot of respect for their program,” said Close. “They’re together, versatile and well disciplined, but on the other hand, when we do things together, get multiple stops and run our offense with a selflessness to really share the ball we are pretty darn good. I thought we played really good teamwork basketball, and we are going to shoot really well when we do things that are in rhythm and I thought that showed.”
In the other games from day two, France (2-0) defeated S.Korea (0-2) 92-35, Mali (1-1) held off Japan (1-1) 67-57, Spain (2-0) beat Brazil (0-2) 83-22, Canada (1-1) dodged Czech Republic 79-71, Italy (1-1) edged Egypt (0-2) 81-73, Russia (2-0) took down host Hungary (1-1) 70-56 and Argentina (1-1) topped Chinese Taipei (0-2) 65-56.
The USA’s assistant coaches are Aaron Johnston (South Dakota State) and Joni Taylor (Georgia).
The defending FIBA U19 World Cup champion, since 2005, the USA U19 women have won seven of the past eight U19 gold medals.
The USA play Egypt next on Aug. 10 at 2:30 p.m. EDT to cap preliminary play in Hungary.
The reigning FIBA U19 World Cup gold medalist, USA women’s teams have won eight gold medals, one silver medal and one bronze medal while compiling an 88-13 overall record in U19 World Cup play since the event was launched in 1985. Even more impressive, the USA has posted a 64-3 record and won seven of the past eight U19 golds since 2005.