USA Captures FIBA Americas U16 Championship Gold Medal With 73-40 Victory Over Brazil
Merida, Mexico • June 18, 2011
After taking an early lead and control of the game, the 2011 USA Women’s U16 National Team (5-0) remained undefeated and captured the gold medal with a dominating 73-40 win over Brazil (3-2) in the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship on June 18 in Mérida, Mexico.
Along with Brazil and Canada (4-1), which topped Puerto Rico (2-3) 53-36 to earn the bronze medal, the USA earned a qualifying berth into the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship (Netherlands, Aug. 17-26).
“We came out really strong,” said USA head coach Jill Rankin Schneider (Monterey H.S., Lubbock, Texas). “We played with purpose, and it's what we've been waiting for. We have a lot of respect for Brazil, and they played us tough. We knew we had to play well to beat them, and we did. We played very well.”
Eleven of 12 players scored for the USA, including four in double figures. Linnae Harper (Whitney M. Young H.S./Chicago, Ill.) led the way with 12 points, five steals and four assists; followed by Jannah Tucker (New Town H.S./Randallstown, Md.) with 11 points five rebounds and five assists; Rebecca Greenwell (Owensboro Catholic H.S./Owensboro, Ky.) with 10 points and three assists; and Mercedes Russell (Springfield H.S./Springfield, Ore.) with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Along with Brazil’s Izabella Frederico Sangalli, Greenwell was named co-MVP of the tournament.
“It feels amazing,” Greenwell said. “Winning a gold medal is probably the best feeling I've ever had.”
Tucker’s seven steals broke the previous USA U16 single-game high of five, which had been recorded twice in 2009 and three times in 2011. Also, Russell’s 4-of-4 performance from the free throw line tied the mark for free throw percentage, which was twice recorded in 2009.
“I think the game was great,” Tucker said. “We did everything well, offensively and defensively. We played hard, and we knew what we wanted from the start.”
In the USA U16 competition record book, six individual records were broken and two were tied, including Greenwell with points averaged (15.6), field goals attempted (tied, 29), field goals made (62) and 3-pointers made (11) and attempted (tied, 24). Russell set new highs for rebounding (11.4) and blocked shots (4.0), and Harper owns the steals mark (3.4).
As a team, the USA established competition records for rebounds (322), rebounds averaged (64.4), blocked shots averaged (9.6) and steals averaged (17.4). All of the previous competition records were set in the inaugural FIBA Americas U16 Championship in 2009.
“It's been a steady process watching them get better each game and watching different players emerge,” Rankin Schneider said. “I'm just so proud for the team, and I'm just so proud to be a part of it.”
The USA took a 4-0 lead to start the game, and the score was 7-2 at 6:54 when Tucker sank her first of two 3-pointers in the period. Following a steal and fast break layup from Harper, the U.S. advantage grew to 11-4 when Brazil called its first timeout at 4:32. From there Brazil answered every bucket with points of its own, and a pull up jumper from Kaela Davis (Buford H.S./Suwanee, Ga.) at 17.6 seconds ended the first quarter with the USA leading 19-8.
“We came out ready to work, and we came out hard,” said Stephanie Mavunga (Brownsburg H.S./Indianapolis, Ind.). “We really gave it all that we had. Brazil was a good team, and they were ready to play. It was a hard fought battle, and we worked harder and wanted it more.”
To start the second quarter, Tucker and Davis scored from the field before Brazil answered back at 7:24 with a bucket that cut the lead to 13 points, 23-10. Over the next four minutes, the U.S. offense kicked into high gear and compiled a 15-0 run that featured four U.S. scorers and gave the Americans a 38-10 at 3:24 on a bucket from Jordin Canada (Windward H.S./Los Angeles, Calif.). Brazil, which never quit fighting despite the deficit, ended the quarter on a 5-0 run, and the score was 40-18 in the USA’s favor at halftime.
The American lead again ballooned in the third quarter as Harper scored eight of the USA’s first 10 points in the period. Overall, the red, white and blue held Brazil to just nine points while it raced to 23 to take a 63-27 lead into the final 10 minutes.
“I thought it was a great game,” Russell said. “We let them have a little run at the end of the second period, and then we came back after halftime and picked it up and finished it.”
Brazil managed to outscore the USA 13-10 in the fourth quarter, but the effort was too little too late, and the USA celebrated a 73-40 gold medal win at the final buzzer.
“We came out ready and intense,” Harper said. “From the jump, we did whatever we had to do to get the gold. Even after halftime when we were up by a lot, we didn't let up.”
Earlier today, Argentina (2-3) topped Venezuela (2-3) 86-23 to finish fifth, and Mexico (2-3) beat Guatemala (0-5) 82-33 to finish in seventh place.
Rankin Schneider was assisted on the USA sideline by 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.