USA Women's U18 National Team Tops Chile, 98-28, Moves On To Gold Medal Game of FIBA Americas U18 Championship
Another quick start and strong finish pushed the USA Women's U18 National Team (4-0) within one win of its ultimate goal.
Eight different U.S. players scored at least eight points on June 26, leading the Americans to a 98-28 win over Chile (2-2) in a medal semfinal game of the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The win puts the USA in the gold medal game against Brazil (3-1), a 50-49 winner over Canada in Saturday's other medal semfinal, at 5:45 p.m. on June 27. The game is not only a rematch of the USA's 89-46 triumph over the Brazilians during preliminary round play but also several rounds of scrimmages in the days leading up to the tournament.
We're going to find a way to get our team focused on some different things and understanding that, 'Hey, when you're playing for a gold medal, all bets are off,' ' said Jen Rizzotti,USA and University of Hartford head coach. 'You don't know how that team is going to come out and play. So we can't rely on the result of the first time we met, and we have to treat it like it's a brand new basketball game.'
Chiney Ogwumike (Cy-Fair H.S./Cypress, Texas) again led the USA with 17 points and seven rebounds against Chile. Kayla McBride (Villa Maria Academy/Erie, Pa.) had 10 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists, while Theresa Plaisance (Vandebilt Catholic H.S./Marerro, La.) had 11 points and six rebounds.
Reshanda Gray (Washington Prep H.S./Los Angeles, Calif.) finished with nine points and eight rebounds, while Diamond DeShields (Norcross H.S./Norcross, Ga), Bria Hartley (North Babylon H.S./North Babylon, N.Y.), Malina Howard (Twinsburg H.S./Twinsburg, Ohio) and Alexis Jones (MacArthur H.S./Irving, Texas) each scored eight points.
Overall, the USA shot 53.1 percent from the field and scored 72 of their 98 points in the paint, in addition to out-rebounding Chile, 59-10.
'Our kids have done a phenomenal job over the last three weeks of growing in that area and understanding that that's the easiest bucket you can have is around the basket,' Rizzotti said. 'We went from being a jump-shooting team two weeks ago to a team that really looks for our post players, and I'm very pleased with that.'
Chile hung with the USA for the game's initial minutes, when Fernanda Tapia hit two buckets to keep Chile within 3-2 and 5-4. The Americans soon began to distance themselves, however, when Ogwumike, McBride and Howard scored on consecutive possessions. Then, Ally Malott (Madison H.S./Middletown, Ohio) hit a 3-pointer to make it 14-4 with 3:29 left in the first quarter, forcing Chile to call a timeout. The American onslaught continued, though, and the USA finished the quarter on a 12-2 run.
The USA was just as sturdy on defense in the first half, too. Chile shot just 4-of-28 from the field in the first two quarters and was held to three points in the second quarter alone. When Cassie Peoples (Cy-Fair H.S./Houston, TX) hit a 3-pointer with eight seconds remaining in the first half, the USA led, 44-10, including 30 of those 44 points in the paint.
Chile matched the USA's bucket to start the second half, when Javiera Morales Leyton got inside for a tough layup. On the next possession, though, Stefanie Dolson (Minisink Valley H.S./Port Jervis, N.Y.) made a smooth lay-in, and Ogwumike followed on the next possession off a strong pass from Cassie Harberts (San Clemente H.S./San Clemente, Calif.).
The third quarter, actually, was Chile's highest scoring quarter to that point, and a 3-pointer from Paula Carrasco and another bucket from Francisca Rojas Solis somewhat broke the USA's momentum with three minutes left in the period. From that point, though, the Americans finished the third on a 13-0 run, before Daniela Alcaino De Las Riberas put in a layup as the third-quarter buzzer sounded.
'Coach definitely had to get on us after the end of the third quarter,' Dolson said. 'We always start out with great intensity, but something happens throughout the game and we lose that. Coach will talk to us about it, and then we will pick up the intensity again. I think this was one of our better games we've played, though.'
The USA finished the game with a 28-point fourth quarter, coming two points shy of breaking the 100-point mark in consecutive nights after June 25's 108-44 win over Puerto Rico.
'I thought our intensity in the fourth quarter was phenomenal with every group that was in there,' Rizzotti said. 'I told them again, 'You guys can do anything you can put your mind to, so make sure when we come out tomorrow we start from the beginning with that mindset.' '
Having beaten Brazil previously and several times in pre-tournament scrimmages, the USA does not appear to be looking past its opponent.
'I don't think so, because we know what's at stake - that gold medal,' McBride said. 'Even though we have beat them four times or whatever, including scrimmages, I just think we have to come out and play our game, and we should be fine.'
Chile (2-2) and Canada (3-1) will play for the bronze medal on June 27 at 3:30 p.m. Argentina (2-2) and Mexico (2-2), despite being out of medal contention, will play at 1:15 in an important fifth-place game to determine who earns this tournament's final berth in the 2011 U19 World Championship in Chile.
The top four finishers in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship, plus Chile as the host nation, qualify for next year's U19 Worlds. Since Chile (2-2) is one of the top four, the fifth-place finisher also will earn a berth to the U19 Worlds.
Costa Rica (0-4) and Puerto Rico (0-4) will play at 11 a.m. on June 27 for seventh place.