USA Cruises Past Brazil, 89-46, In Preliminary Round Of FIBA Americas U18 Championship For Women
The USA Women's U18 National Team (2-0) began its game against Brazil (1-1) similar to how it left off the night before. The USA launched a 13-2 run within the first three minutes of play, eight coming from guard Bria Hartley (North Babylon H.S./North Babylon, N.Y.), before it sailed to a 89-46 win over Brazil on June 24 in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
"We haven't been coming out too strong and coach always says we want to start out every six minutes of every game strong," Hartley said. "So, we came out and tried to push the tempo up the floor so we could get a good run going."
Perhaps the biggest statistic, though, was the USA's successful shooting from the charity stripe, hitting 15-of-17 shots. The 88.2 accuracy percentage sets a USA FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women record, eclipsing its 81.0 percent record set against Brazil in 2000.
"We haven't really focused on (free-throw shooting) that much," said Jennifer Rizzotti, USA and University of Hartford head coach. "Obviously, we've done some pressure free-throw situations in all of our practices and challenged them to be good at that. We've overall been a pretty good free-throw shooting team in practice and in games.
"Brazil's a great team," Rizzotti continued. "They always have a very competitive program coming here at a young age. They're very passionate in the way they play. We knew they were gonna be one of our toughest competitors. Our biggest things were to dominate the boards, and we won that, so we certainly did what we set out to do.So I'm really pleased with the overall effort."
Brazil tightened the gap to eight, 19-11, with 4:30 to play in the first period, but the USA finished the stanza on a 10-0 run and never looked back, leading by double digits the remainder of the contest, and by at least 20 from the beginning of the second period.
The 10-0 run was extended to 14 just one minute into the second period, forcing Brazil to burn an early timeout to regroup. The USA was able to get the ball inside to Chiney Ogwumike (Cy-Fair H.S./Cypress, Texas) immediately after, though, pushing its lead to 35-11 before Brazil's Jennifer Sirtoli hit a pair of free throws to get her team back on the board.
During a span in the second period, Ogwumike scored eight consecutive points for the USA, and the U.S. defense held Brazil without a field goal for nearly an entire period, lasting 9:30. The Americans led 48-22 at the halftime intermission.
"We were definitely prepared going through films and scrimmaging (Brazil) twice previously," Hartley said. "It was definitely a lot of fun. I have really enjoyed playing and getting to know all these girls. Best time of my life."
Hartley was one of four players in double figures for the USA, scoring 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
Period three was much of the same with the USA using a 15-2 run midway through to keep the pressure applied. In the period, Kayla McBride (Villa Maria Academy/Erie, Penn.) and Alexis Jones (MacArthur H.S./Irving, Texas) were successful from underneath the basket, combining for 13 consecutive points. As a team, the USA scored 48 points in the paint.
Rizzotti received production from each of her players, with all 12 recording at least one rebound and 11 players scoring.
Besides Hartley, Ogwumike (15 points, seven rebounds), Jones (12 points) and McBride (10 points) also led the offensive attack.
"It felt really good just to be out here representing the United States of America," McBride said. "It's an awesome feeling just to come out here and represent, and that's what I do. I just play my game, and we all play as a team, and it's an awesome feeling.
As a team, the USA connected on 54.7 percent (35-of-64) of its shots, compared to Brazil's 28.6 percent (18-of-63). Additionally, the USA outrebounded Brazil 46-20 and collected 20 assists.
Next up, the Americans will face Puerto Rico (0-2), who fell to Argentina (1-1) in the closing minutes on Thursday, 68-60. The game is scheduled for June 25 at 5:45 p.m. (all times MDT).
Standing at 2-0 in preliminary play, the USA has secured its berth into the medal semifinals, which begin on Saturday, and the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship. The top four teams plus Chile as the host country each earn a spot in the U19 Worlds.
Also Thursday, Canada (2-0) was the winner over Chile (1-1), 66-33; and Mexico (1-1) beat Costa Rica (0-2), 78-40. Canada will play Chile on June 25 at 11 a.m., while Costa Rica and Mexico square off at 1:15 p.m. and Brazil and Argentina play at 3:45 p.m.
"We've been with each other for three weeks, and now we know how we all play," McBride said. "We are coming together, and it's fun."