USA Cruises Past Venezuela 114-32, Into Medal Semifinals As No. 1 Seed
Merida, Mexico • June 15, 2011
The USA Women’s U16 National Team (3-0) led from start to finish in an impressive 114-32 win over Venezuela (1-2) in the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship on June 15 in Mérida, Mexico. With the victory, the USA advances to the medal semifinals as Group B’s No. 1 seed, where on June 17 it will meet the No. 2 seed from Group A, which is still to be determined.
“I felt like we came ready to play, and we played hard and we shot the ball pretty well,” said USA head coach Jill Rankin Schneider (Monterey H.S., Lubbock, Texas).
As it has in all three of its games, the USA established a USA U16 record, this time for assists with 32. Additionally, the U.S. tied the high for blocked shots with 11, and Recee’ Caldwell (Claudia Taylor Johnson H.S./San Antonio, Texas) tied the assists record with six dimes. With the exception of the blocked shots mark, which also was tied on June 13, the previous USA U16 records were established in the inaugural FIBA Americas U16 Championship in 2009.
“It's a great feeling to be able to rely on your teammates because you know that you will have a good option, whether it's the first or second option or even later in the offense,” Caldwell said.
Five players finished in double-digit scoring for the USA, including Rebecca Greenwell (Owensboro Catholic H.S./Owensboro, Ky.) with 18 points, four rebounds and four steals; Stephanie Mavunga (Brownsburg H.S./Indianapolis, Ind.) with 18 points, seven rebounds and three blocks; Jannah Tucker (New Town H.S./Randallstown, Md.) with 17 points, including 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point; Jatarie White (Providence Day School/Charlotte, N.C.) with 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots; and Taya Reimer (Hamilton Southeastern H.S./Fisher, Ind.) with 10 points and five rebounds.
The USA size, strength and depth advantages were apparent in nearly every statistical category. The Americas outrebounded Venezuela by 22 boards (58-36), tallied 53 bench points to Venezuela’s nine and recorded 72 points in the paint, 43 fast break points and 33 points off of turnovers.
“I thought that we really played well,” Reimer said. “We've been having trouble playing well from the get-go, and today we actually started well. It was a good game for us, and it was a lot of fun.”
The USA opened with a 6-0 run and never looked back. Seven U.S. scorers combined for 33 points in the first quarter, while the U.S. defense allowed just three field goals and two free throws. Jordin Canada (Windward School/Los Angeles, Calif.) beat the buzzer with a running 3-pointer to give the USA a 33-8 lead at the first break.
The USA’s largest run of the game, a 27-0 spurt, stretched from 2:20 in the first quarter to 4:21 in the second period, when Venezuela ended the onslaught with free throw that brought the score to 51-9. The USA went on to outscore its opponent 8-4 over the next four minutes and by halftime had compiled a 59-13 lead.
“Coach told us during halftime to keep our focus and reminded us of why we are here, and we maintained control of the game the whole time,” Canada said.
The red, white and blue once again held Venezuela scoreless for the first 3:49 of the third period, racing to 14 points of its own, and the score was 73-14 when the South Americans sank a free throw at 6:11. Overall in the third, the USA outscored Venezuela 35-6, improving its advantage to 94-19 headed into the final stanza.
The fourth quarter was more of the same, and the USA widened the game by seven more points to take its largest lead, 82 points, at the conclusion of the game.
“Overall, I think everyone just played really, really well together,” said Kaela Davis (Buford H.S./Suwanee, Ga.). “We set a record with 32 assists, so that's always something great to hear -- that everyone is sharing the ball and we are really coming together as one.”
All 11 active players scored for the USA. Erica McCall (Ridgeview H.S./Bakersfield, Calif.) was sidelined by a sore right knee, and she is listed as day-to-day.
The USA turned in its best shooting performance of the tournament, making 52-of-87 field goals (58.6 percent), and reached 100 points for the first time.
“We knew coming into the game that we have had some lulls in our intensity, and that was a goal for us today -- regardless of how the game is going, don't let there be that familiar lull,” Rankin Schneider said. “I thought we did a really good job of handling that. And then a halftime, we tried to establish some different goals for ourselves, because the point spread was so big and you have a tendency to get a little sloppy and we didn't want that to happen. We made it a priority to execute our half court offense, to try and stop penetration down the middle of our defense and to limit our turnovers. I thought we did a great job on all of that in the second half.”
Assisting Rankin Schneider on the USA sideline are Gail Hook, head mentor at Monarch High School in Louisville, Colo., and Letitia Hughley, head coach at both Mott Community College and Flint Northern High School in Flint, Mich.
In today’s other games, Group A will see Puerto Rico (1-1) take on Guatemala (0-2) at 4:00 p.m. (all times listed are local, Mérida is -1 hour from EDT), while Brazil (1-1) faces Argentina (2-0) at 6:00 p.m. in Group B and Mexico plays Canada at 8:00 p.m. in Group A action to end the evening.
While the USA has secured Group B’s No. 1 seed, they await the No. 2 seed from Group A in the medal semifinals, and the No. 2 seed from Group B will take on the No. 1 seed from Group A in the other medal semifinal. The third and fourth place teams in each group will play for 5th through 8th place. After a day off on June 16, the semifinals will be played on June 17, and the finals will be played on June 18.
“There are lots of ways that any team can improve, and there are lots of places that this team could be better,” Rankin Schneider said. “But as far as how good we are going to be on Friday and Saturday night, I think that we are ready for that challenge.”
The top three finishing teams at the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship will earn a berth into the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship (site and date TBD).