France Surrenders As USA U19 Women Come From Behind For 70-64 Victory, Advance To Medal Semifinals
July 29, 2011 • Puerto Montt, Chile
Breanna Stewart (Cicero-North Syracuse H.S. / North Syracuse, N.Y.) scored 21 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, to lead the 2011 USA Basketball Women’s U19 World Championship Team (6-1) to a 70-64 come-from-behind quarterfinal victory over France (5-2). Played Friday night in Puerto Montt, Chile, the win advances the U.S. to the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship medal semifinal against Brazil (6-1), on Saturday night at 9:00 p.m. (all times EDT).
Stewart hauled in 13 rebounds, eight on the offensive end, to pick up the game’s only double-double, and was credited with a pair of blocked shots. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Mater Dei H.S. / Anaheim, Calif.) had nine of her 13 points in the fourth quarter, while Bria Hartley (Connecticut / North Babylon, N.Y.) finished with 10 points and a team-high five assists.
Brazil earned its semifinal berth by virtue of a 73-71 win over Russia (3-4). Spain (4-3) handed Canada (6-1) its first defeat, 69-55, and will face Australia (6-1), 92-83 victors over Japan (3-4) in Saturday’s first semifinal game at 6:45 p.m. The medal finals are scheduled for July 31 and FIBATV.com will stream live online the medal semifinals and medal finals.
“We talked about this yesterday, that every team out here is very equal,” said Jennifer Rizzotti, USA U19 World Championship Team and University of Hartford head coach. “Everybody wants to win really badly and it was going to take some individual plays and team defense to make sure we got a win. France gave us all they had. To see their disappointment after the game shows you how much they wanted to win and how hard they play for their country. I want my players to feel that kind of passion and I felt that in the fourth quarter tonight everything came together for us.”
Despite allowing France to gain a 13-point lead in the first half, the USA kept its poise and never capitulated as it chipped away at the gap through the remainder of the half.
With the USA shooting an icy 1-of-6 from the field to start the game, France ran out to a 14-5 lead at 5:51. The Americans got back-to-back baskets from Morgan Tuck (Bolingbrook H.S. / Bolingbrook, Ill.) and Cierra Burdick (Butler H.S. / Matthews, N.C.) and at 4:38 the gap was down to 14-9. However, after both teams swapped baskets, France closed out the first period on a 7-0 run to go up 23-11.
Following a turnaround jumper from Elizabeth Williams (Princess Anne H.S. / Virginia Beach, Va.), France upped its lead to 13 points (26-13) with a three at 8:02. The USA’s defense got back on track and held France scoreless, while Stewart scored seven straight points in a 9-0 spurt and with 3:08 to go before halftime, the Europeans’ lead was down to four points, 26-24. The U.S. wasn’t able to get any closer and headed into the locker room trailing 30-25.
"We talked at halftime that they basically gave it their best and we were still only down five,” said Hartley. “We were shooting really poorly from the floor. We knew that if we came out in the second half, just play our game, play at our tempo, we’d be fine.”
“I talked to (Breanna Stewart) at halftime about forcing them to really guard her and to dictate the defense,” said Rizzotti. “I felt she was allowing their defense to dictate her offense. I said ‘you need to go at them. They’re going at you. You need to turn around and do the same thing to them. The buckets she got were just effort. It was ‘I want the ball in the paint.’ Or ‘I’m going to get an offensive rebound.’ Or ‘I’m going to run the floor harder. Then, defensively she was great back in the zone. She got a couple blocks for us and obviously she always rebounds the ball.”
Stewart drove to the basket and got the first points of the second half with the quarter just eight seconds old. Getting a pair of defensive stops, the USA got two more points from Stewart at the line and Ariel Massengale (Bolingbrook H.S. / Bolingbrook, Ill.) banked in a jumper at the top of the key to nab the team’s second lead of the game, 31-30, at 8:54. France netted a pair of threes during a 12-5 run to retake the lead, 42-36, with 4:49 on the clock. By the 2:55 mark in the third, France’s lead was back up to six, 47-41.
Still not willing to accept defeat, Stefanie Dolson (Connecticut / Port Jervis, N.Y.) got a feed inside from her college teammate Hartley and Mosqueda-Lewis scored on a drive to the basket and swished in a pair of free throws to knot the score again at 47-apiece. France notched the quarter’s final points from the line and with 10 minutes to play, the USA was down by just two points, 49-47.
Mosqueda-Lewis and Stewart combined for 13 points as the USA opened the final stanza on a 15-2 run to gain a 62-51 lead with 6:05 to play.
But the game was not over yet.
France, which made nine 3-pointers in the game, hit back-to-back threes in a 9-0 spurt that cut the USA’s lead to 62-60 at 4:13 and at 2:24, France evened things back up, 64-64.
Neither team was able to score over the next 1:20 and with 1:04 to play, Hartley threaded the needle to Stewart, who was hacked going up. Stewart, who was 7-of-7 from the line, calmly stepped to the line and made both attempts. Tight defense on the other end forced another France turnover and the ball was back in the USA’s hands. With the shot clock running down, Mosqueda-Lewis drove through traffic and scored to give the Americans a four-point, 68-64, lead with 23.1 seconds left to play.
Following a time out by France, the Europeans were unable to get a good look at the basket and after Stewart tipped the shot away, Massengale came up with the ball, sprinted down the court and was fouled with 1.5 seconds remaining. After making both tries, time ran out for France and the U.S. advanced to the medal semifinals with the 70-64 victory.
“Our zone definitely helped us out a lot on the defensive end (in the second half), said Stewart. “Offensively, we were crashing the boards, getting rebounds and going back up with them.”
Valeriane Ayayi, who had 11 points in the first half, led France’s scoring effort with 19 points, while Helena Akmouche had 15, Adja Konteh scored 11 and Jenny Fouasseau added 10.
“(Ayayi) started off great,” said Hartley. “We had to adjust. We came out, adjusted our defense and we were able to get a couple of stops. That helped us a lot.”
In all, the first quarter saw the USA shoot just 23.5 percent (4-17 FGs), while France knocked down 66.7 percent (10-15 FGs) of its tries in the opening stanza. However, the U.S. upped its shooting through the remainder of the contest and finished at 39.7 percent (26-66 FGs), while pulling France down to 39.7 percent (25-63 FGs).
Canada and Japan will play in the consolation semifinals at 1:30 p.m., while France and Russia will face off in the 4:30 p.m. consolation semifinal.
In classification play, Italy (4-3) defeated host Chile (1-6) 67-48 and China (3-4) downed Taiwan (2-5) 88-50. Chile and Taiwan will meet on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. to determine 12th and 13th places, while Italy and China will play for 9th and 10th places at 11:15 a.m.
Only U.S. citizens who are 19 years old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1992) are eligible for this team.
Assistant coaches for the USA U19 World Championship Team are Sue Semrau of Florida State University and Joi Williams of the University of Central Florida.
Originally known as the FIBA Junior World Championship, the tournament was held every four years from 1985 through 2005. FIBA now conducts the U19 World Championship every other year. Prior to this year’s start, USA women's teams were 49-11 all-time in U19/Junior World Championships, most recently capturing a third consecutive gold with an 8-1 record in 2009.