USA Women Capture FIBA U17 World Championship Gold Medal With 75-62 Win Over Spain
- Diamond DeShields Earns MVP, Linnae Harper Named All-Tournament -
Amsterdam, the Netherlands • Aug. 26, 2012
The USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Championship Team (8-0) fought off a resilient Spain (5-3) team to remain undefeated and capture the gold medal in the 2012 FIBA U17 World Championship on Sunday afternoon at Sporthallen Zuid in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Spain threatened to take control of the game with runs in the second and third quarters, but each time the USA responded to lead from start to finish in its closest final of the tournament.
The USA’s Diamond DeShields (Norcross H.S./Norcross, Ga.) earned tournament MVP, while Linnae Harper (Whitney Young H.S./Chicago, Ill.) was named to the five-member all-tournament team.
“When we came out as well as we did, I was just so proud of them because I really felt like they were ready,” said USA head coach Jill Rankin Schneider (Monterey H.S., Texas). “They were focused and brought a lot of energy. It didn't hurt that Spain shot the ball pretty poorly early, because it helped us establish some momentum that carried us through the rest of the ball game.”
With Spain 10 points behind the USA to start the fourth quarter, Lindsay Allen (St. John’s College H.S., D.C./Bowie, Md.) scored 11 points and hit three 3-pointers in the first 4:22 of stanza to help put the game out of reach. Allen finished with 13 points, six assists and was a USA U17 record 3-of-3 from 3-point. The USA’s
14-of-14 performance from the free throw line also was a USA U17 record.
“It was a really well-played game on our part,” Allen said. “We got up early on them and played with great intensity in the first quarter. We kind of let them back in, but we pulled it back together and we got a great win.”
DeShields, who grabbed eight rebounds and dished out five assists, and Rebecca Greenwell (Owesnboro Catholic H.S./Owensboro, Ky.), who collected 12 boards for a double-double, also scored 13 points apiece. Taya Reimer (Hamilton Southeastern H.S./Fishers, Ind.) added 12 points and seven rebounds.
Overall, the USA outrebounded Spain 59-39, which it had previously beat in an unofficial scrimmage on Aug. 15.
“We knew it was going to be a hard game because we played them close the first time we played them,” Greenwell said. “They came out and played really hard, but I think we brought all we had in the championship game, and we pulled it out in the end.”
The USA jumped to an 11-0 lead that included six points from DeShields before Spain scored at 5:50 to put its first points on the board. The teams traded baskets over the next four minutes before the USA closed on a 7-0 run, including a score from Reimer and a 3-pointer from DeShields, to lead 22-8 after the first quarter.
The streak stretched into the second period for the USA, and the Americans lead 27-8 when Mercedes Russell (Springfield H.S./Springfield, Ore.) scored an offensive rebound at 9:15. Spain ended the onslaught with a free throw at 8:55 but called a timeout at 8:08 with the USA leading 32-9. After a score from each team, Spain went on its own run to bring the game back within reach, streaking to 15 unanswered points that included three 3-pointers and cut the U.S. lead to eight, 34-26, at 3:23. Greenwell scored at 2:33 to help restore a double-digit lead that was short lived. After two scores from Harper, Spain closed with a bucket and 3-pointer to trail by just nine at the midway point, 40-31.
“I think in the first quarter we came out with energy, excitement,” Harper said. “I think in the second period we were a little bit too excited, it's the gold medal game, but throughout the rest of the game we picked it up, stayed focused, and we ended up winning the gold medal, and it's a wonderful feeling.”
The game of runs continued in the second half. The USA opened the third quarter with a 14-0 streak, its largest run of the game, before Spain fought back with its own 17-4 spurt to trail by just 10 points, 58-48, headed into the final 10 minutes.
Allen took over in the start of the fourth period to end any comeback hopes harbored by Spain. Allen scored an offensive rebound and then sank two 3-pointers, before Brianna Turner (Manvel H.S./Pearland, Texas) scored an alley-oop off of an inbounds play. By the time Allen sank her third three at 5:38, the USA had compiled a 19-point, 71-52 lead. The USA went on to tally four points to Spain’s 10 to bring the game to its 75-62 final.
“We definitely came out with a lot of energy,” Reimer said. “There were times when we kind of let off. But as a whole, the whole game, we played awesome.”
Marina Lizarazu led Spain with 19 points.
As a team, the USA listed first in 14 of 19 major statistical categories in the FIBA U17 World Championship, including scoring (90.8 ppg.), scoring margin (+35.0 pp.), field goal percentage (.446), 3-point field goal percentage (.337), rebounding margin (+18.5 rpg.), assists (17.0 apg.) and blocked shots (7.63 bpg.).
Three individuals ranked as the tournament’s best in various categories. Allen listed No. 1 in assists (4.13 apg.) and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.36), Harper was No. 1 in steals (4.25 spg.) and Russell was No. 1 in field goal percentage (.640).
“They really played well at times,” Schneider said of her team. “I would have like a little more consistency, but when you are in a tournament like this and you play as many games as they did, I'm not sure that's realistic. I'm just proud that they were able to win the gold medal for themselves because they've worked hard and they deserve it. They've been a great group to work with.”
Additionally, DeShields’ 14.8 ppg. set as USA U17 high, as did her 108 field goal attempts. Greenwell attempted a competition record 42 3-pointers, while Russell’s 64.0 percent from the field was a record, as were Harper’s 34 steals.
As a team, the USA set rebounding highs with 482 total and 60.2 rpg., as well as records of 7.6 bpg. and 15.5 spg. Lastly the USA bettered the field goals attempted mark with 626 and 3-pointers attempted with 101. All of the previous competition highs were set in the inaugural FIBA U17 World Championship in 2010.
The USA is now 16-0 in FIBA U17 World Championship play after having wrapped up a gold medal and undefeated 8-0 record in 2010.
Also today, Canada (5-3) earned the bronze medal after defeating Japan (5-3) 84-77. Australia (5-3) won against Italy (5-3) for fifth place, and Belgium (3-5) finished seventh after beating the Netherlands (4-4).Schneider is assisted on the U.S. sideline by Gail Hook (Monarch H.S., Colo.) and Letitia Hughley (Mott C.C., Mich.). The trio helped qualify the USA for the U17 Worlds by virtue of their gold-medal finish at the 2011 FIBA Americas U16 Championship.