USA U19 Women Set Records in 129-45 Round of 16 Win Over Taiwan
The USA (4-0) started things off with a 10-0 run in its round of 16 match up with Taiwan (0-4) and never looked back in a decisive 129-45 victory at the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup in Debrecen, Hungary. The USA scored its 129 points on 38 assists, breaking the USA U19 women’s record for assists in a game, as well as tying the record for total points in a USA U19 women’s game.
The USA will face Spain (3-1) in the quarterfinals on Aug. 3 (2:30 p.m. EDT).
“They're coming together as a real team,” said USA head coach Cori Close (UCLA). “We are doing something better together than they could ever do individually, and I think that's really been the secret to our success up to this point, and that will be very important to preserve moving forward in the next round.”
The Americans showcased unselfishness and an evenly distributed offense with nine of 11 players recording double-digit scoring efforts in the win, including all five starters. Payton Verhulst (Louisville/De Soto, Kan.) led with 18 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two steals; Te-Hina Paopao (Oregon/Oceanside, Calif.) tallied 16 points, eight rebounds and four assists; Sania Feagin (Forest Park H.S./Ellenwood, Ga.) finished with 14 points and nine rebounds; Lauren Betts recorded 14 points and six rebounds; Diamond Johnson (NC State/Philadelphia, Pa.) chipped in 14 points, seven assists and one steal; Sonia Citron (The Ursuline School/Scarsdale, N.Y.) scored 13 points with six rebounds, three assists and a team-high four steals; Azzi Fudd (St. Johns College H.S., D.C./Arlington, Va.) finished with 12 points and three assists; Lauren Ware (Arizona/Bismark, N.D.) tallied 11 points, four rebounds and three assists; and Caitlin Clark (Iowa/West Des Moines, Iowa) rounded things out with 10 points, five rebounds and eight assists.
The Americans outscored Taiwan in the first half 63-25, securing a 38-point lead at the break. Betts scored all 14 of her points in the first half (6-of-7 FGs) and Verhulst chipped in 13 points, three rebounds and three assists at halftime.
“Coach told us after the game that we passed the assist record,” said Verhulst. “So, I think when a team is made up of a bunch of all stars basically, that are willing to pass and give it up to each other, I think that you're going to find success at whatever you do.”
The USA’s perimeter shooting has proven to be an asset in its wins, shooting 43.7% (14-32 3pt FGs) against Taiwan and a tournament-leading 43.1% (47-109 3pt FGs) in its first four games at the FIBA U19 World Cup.
“We really shoot the ball well and so the spacing is so much better, and what it's translated to today is really being able to establish our bigs,” said Close. “I think that it's really also a little credit to our 38 assists, and our willingness to share the ball. I think those percentages go up because we'll pass up a good shot to get a great shot.”
In the third quarter, the USA went on a big push, opening the quarter scoring 25 unanswered points and winning the quarter 40-5, securing a 73-point lead (103-30) heading into the final stanza.
“Basically, everyone was in double-digits today, so that just shows how much we like to share the ball and it also helps our offensive flow,” said Ware. “We also get stops on the other end of the floor and get out on the fast break. It has been fun to see how much we’ve grown from our first exhibition against Spain to now. We’ve started sharing the ball with each other and it shows on the stat sheet with our assists.”
The Americans took care of the fourth quarter 25-16 to close with its fourth-straight victory.
The USA forced Taiwan to 19 turnovers, resulting in 34 points, and won the rebounding differential 69-24. The Americans also outscored Taiwan in the paint 74-10, in bench scoring 64-32 and in fast break points 30-13.
“We wanted to work on certain things on our defense today and we really bought into that as a team,” said Verhulst. “I know it's only going to help us in the next rounds when these games become a little more competitive and we can rely on the things we worked on in those earlier games.”
In the other round of 16 games, Spain defeated Japan (1-3) 71-64, Mali (3-1) took down South Korea (1-3) 87-46, Canada (2-2) held off France (3-1) 79-72, Czech Republic (3-1) downed Brazil (0-4) 74-64, and host Hungary (3-1) topped Italy (1-3) 54-48. Remaining games to be played today are Australia (2-1) versus Argentina (1-2) and Egypt (0-3) versus Russia (3-0).
The eight winning from the round of 16 teams advance to the Aug. 13 quarterfinals round. Winners continue to proceed through to the Aug. 14 semifinals and Aug 15 finals. Losing teams will continue play in classification games.
USA Basketball Women’s U19 World Cup member Jewel Spear (Wake Forest/The Colony, Texas) was placed under USA Basketball’s health and safety protocols on August 8 and is considered game-to-game for the remainder of the FIBA Women’s U19 World Cup.
The USA’s assistant coaches are Aaron Johnston (South Dakota State) and Joni Taylor (Georgia).
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 90-13 overall record in U19 World Cup play since the event was launched in 1985. Even more impressive, the USA has posted a 66-3 record and won seven of the past eight U19 golds since 2005.