USA Advances To FIBA Americas U16 Championship Gold Medal Game With 99-51 Rout Of Puerto Rico
Merida, Mexico • June 17, 2011
Leading by 10 points after the first quarter, the 2011 USA Women’s U16 National Team (4-0) compiled a 23-0 run in the second period to take control of the game before cruising to a 99-51 win against Puerto Rico (2-2) in the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship on June 17 in Mérida, Mexico.
With the victory, the USA advances to the gold medal game where it will meet Brazil (3-1), which downed Canada (3-1) 56-35 in today’s other semifinal, at 8:00 p.m. (9:00 p.m EDT) on Saturday, June 18. The USA also guaranteed its spot in the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship (site and date TBD), as the top three finishing teams at the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship earn a berth into the 2012 Worlds.
“We started out sluggish, and I don't think our big bodies established themselves offensively the way that we needed them to,” said USA head coach Jill Rankin Schneider (Monterey H.S., Lubbock, Texas). “That changed in the second quarter. Our bench came in and continued to be a catalyst for us. We dominated the boards, and we were going hard inside. That second quarter run was the ball game essentially, and it was by and large from players off of our bench. We were a little sloppy defensively in the second half -- we gave up too many boards, we fouled too much and gave up baseline penetration. I'm glad that we got that behind us, and now we've got the gold medal game in front of us. I fully expect this team to rise to the occasion.”
The USA was led by 20 points and six rebounds from Rebecca Greenwell (Owensboro Catholic H.S./Owensboro, Ky.), 16 points and eight rebounds from Jatarie White (Providence Day School/Charlotte, N.C.) and 14 points and 13 boards from Mercedes Russell (Springfield H.S./Springfield, Ore.).
“Now that we are all in a grove and we've played a couple of games, I think we all have the confidence to share the ball and knock down shots,” Greenwell said.
As it has in all four of its games, the USA established new marks in the USA U16 record book. After twice tying the previous record of 11 blocks set in 2009, the U.S. set a team high for blocked shots with 12, and its 95 shot attempts also broke the record of 90 field goals attempted, which also was set in 2009.
Individually, White’s 8-of-9 performance from the line broke the USA U16 record for free throws made and tied the mark for free throws attempted, both of which were set by Russell on June 13. Additionally, Russell tied her previous blocked shots record with five rejections, and Greenwell’s five steals tied a record that has previously been reached four times, twice in 2009 and twice in 2011.
“I thought tonight we did really well offensively,” White said. “We got a lot of rebounds and put backs, we hustled and we ran through our offenses. We could have played better on defense and done a better job of picking people up, but overall it was a good game.”
Russell put the first four points on the board for the USA, and the Americans had an 8-4 lead when Puerto Rico called its first timeout at 6:25. While Puerto Rico scored out of the break, the USA responded with an 8-0 run to take a 16-6 lead on a jumper from Kaela Davis at 4:04. From there each team scored six points, and the scoreboard read 22-12 at the first break.
The USA offense kicked into high gear in the second quarter while its defense allowed Puerto Rico just six points. A 23-0 run that began at 8:32 with a jumper from Greenwell was capped by another jumper from Davis at 3:05. Puerto Rico interrupted the spurt with a field goal, but the USA advantage grew by five more points thanks in part to a running three from Greenwell to just beat the halftime buzzer, and the teams headed to the locker with the USA leading 57-18.
“We are getting along really well, and on the court we have really started to shine,” said Sydney Umeri (The Lovett School/Acworth, Ga.). “It's not just a one-man game; it's all 12 of us.”
Puerto Rico managed to nearly keep pace with the USA in the third quarter, but the game’s outcome had already been decided. The USA outscored its opponent 22-21 in the third and 20-12 in the fourth quarter to bring the game to its final score of 99-51.
Also reaching double-digit scoring for the USA were: Linnae Harper (Whitney M. Young H.S./ Chicago, Ill.) with 11 points and four rebounds, and Stephanie Mavunga (Brownsburg H.S./Indianapolis, Ind.) with 10 points and eight boards. Jordin Canada (Windward School/Los Angeles, Calif.) was the game’s assists leader with five.
Puerto Rico was led by 15 points from Claudia Alejandra Ortiz Ledesma.
In today’s other games, Venezuela (2-2) earned the right to play for fifth place with a 87-20 win over Guatemala (0-4). While Mexico (1-2) plays Argentina (0-3) in tonight’s 8:00 p.m. (9:00 p.m. EDT) game, with the winner meeting Venezuela and the loser facing Guatemala in the seventh/eighth place game.
“I think our defense is the key to the game tomorrow,” said Jannah Tucker (New Town H.S./Randallstown, Md.), who finished with nine points, eight rebounds and four assists. “Like coach always says, we need to limit how much they score to win the game. It feels great to be playing for a gold medal. That is what we have all worked so hard for.”
USA assistant coaches 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.