USA Wins Gold at 2022 FIBA WU18 Americas Championship
The 2022 USA Basketball Women's U18 National Team won the gold medal at the 2022 FIBA U18 Women’s Americas Championship after an 82-77 win over Canada Sunday at Estadio Obras Sanitarias in Buenos Aires. The U.S. is now 65-2 all-time in FIBA WU18 play and has won 10 straight championships (11 overall) dating back to 2000.
Though the U.S. led for the majority of the game, Canada made several runs throughout the second half that required the Americans to stay focused on both ends of the floor.
“Canada was a really good team. We knew they were going to be tough,” USA head coach Joni Taylor said. “They tested us. Every time they made a run, we answered it or we stood our ground. It took all of us. We had so many people who made plays down the stretch, whether it was a big rebound, a big shot, whatever it was."
In their fourth consecutive championship meeting since 2014 (sixth overall), the tilt between the USA and Canada started with frenetic energy and a fast pace. The U.S. took a narrow 20-16 lead into the second quarter behind Cotie McMahon, who scored eight of the Americans’ first 10 points before Londynn Jones added five in the frame and matched McMahon for the half at eight.
Extending their lead to 41-31 at halftime, the USA made several trips to the free throw line led by Kiki Rice who went 6-of-8 from the stripe in the first half. She made her field goal at the 2:44 mark of the second for a total of eight points before the break.
In the third quarter, Canada rallied from a 40-52 deficit to close to within four points at the end of the period. Canada used a 12-4 run, capped by a T’yana Todd 3-pointer at the horn, to trail 57-53 going into the fourth.
The U.S. rebuilt a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter and withstood a late flurry to take the five-point win. McMahon gave her squad another huge boost, scoring eight points in the final 10:00.
McMahon, who was named to the tournament’s All-Star Five, scored a game-high 22 points (9-15 FG, 1-3 3FG, 3-4 FT) to go with two rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Rice, the tournament MVP and All-Star Five honoree, scored 18 points, with 10 of them coming at the free throw line. She set a U.S. record for free throws in a U18 game (previously 9, Brianna Turner vs. CAN, 8/8/14). She added two rebounds, three assists and one steal.
“Canada and all the teams we played in this tournament are great teams,” Rice said. “We had to prepare and put everything together and I’m super excited. We put in a lot of work to get where we are right now. These last few weeks have been a grind. But we came here and met our goal of winning the gold.”
For the week, Rice averaged 14.3 points (.492% FG, .727% 3FG). 4.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.8 steals and 27.8 minutes.
Jones added 15 points, five rebounds, two assists and a game-high five steals. Isuneh 'Ice' Brady came down with a game-high 15 rebounds (14 DR), tying the all-time U.S. mark in a U18 contest (also Nneka Ogwumike vs. ARG, 7/27/08). Her 15 boards matched the second-most recorded in the tournament.
“When we got together on May 31, it was 30 women and we got down to 12, and the goal was to do something that was bigger than ourselves,” Taylor said. “The way they’ve come together as a unit to win this gold medal is something I’m really proud of. Anytime you have the opportunity to represent USA Basketball is humbling and I’m glad the mission is accomplished.”
S'Mya Nichols and Kailyn Gilbert missed the game (health and safety protocols).
The game tipped off following a late start that saw Argentina win the bronze medal over Brazil, 55-50, in double overtime.