COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The 2014 USA Basketball Women’s U18 National Team (3-0) rode a game-changing 19-4 second-quarter run to an eventual 107-76 win over previously unbeaten Canada (2-1) in the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship on Friday night at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. The game saw six lead changes and five ties, all of those coming in the first half, before the USA took control.
With the win, the USA secured the No. 1 seed out of Group A and will face Argentina (2-1), the No. 2 seed of Group B, in the semifinals at 5:30 p.m. (MDT) on Aug. 9. All games are available live online at www.fibaamericas.com, and admission to the championship is free.
Canada will play Group B’s No. 1 seed Brazil (2-1) in the first semifinal at 3:30 p.m. (MDT), and the semifinal winners will meet in the gold medal game on Aug. 10. The four semifinal teams, by ensuring a top-four finish in the tournament, have qualified for the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship in Russia.
Napheesa Collier (Connecticut.) led the USA with 22 points, 10 rebounds and four steals; and Brianna Turner (Notre Dame), who finished with 21 points and eight rebounds, set USA U18 women’s records for free throws made and attempted by shooting 9-of-11 from the line.
“We knew Canada was going to come out and play extremely well against us in the beginning, but what we told our team was, ‘a marathon isn’t won in the first mile,’” said USA head coach Dawn Staley (University of South Carolina). “I like what we bring into this tournament over a 40-minute period, and I thought we responded. We got some great contributions off the bench. Napheesa Collier -- beautiful performance. It’s incredible to watch her operate night in and night out. This is what she does every single night; she doesn’t take plays off and that’s why she willed us to this win today.”
As a team, the USA shot 29-of-33 from the free throw line (.879), and had three more players reach double-digit scoring.
The USA jumped out to a 9-0 lead to start the game before Canada fought back to tie the score at 11-11 at 5:42 in the first quarter. From there the teams went back and forth, and Canada, which made two 3-pointers in the last 2:20, led 23-21 at the first intermission. The two-point deficit was the first time in the tournament that the USA had trailed at a quarter break.
UCLA's Recee' Caldwell started at point and registered four assists, two points and two rebounds in 18 minutes of action in the rout of Canada.
“We did a good job of hitting them first and came out with an 11-2 lead,” said Caldwell. “Then Canada came back to take the lead and we did a good job of not panicking and taking their best punch. We executed the rest of the way and gave the ball to our bigs and that's when we eventually took the lead and blew them out.”
A bucket from Collier to start the second period knotted the score, but Canada responded with another shot from behind the arc, and by the 7:23 mark had built a 33-27 advantage. Free throws from Turner and back-to-back three-point plays for Team USA tied the game up at 35-35 at 6:01. Canada scored once more before the USA launched an 8-0 run to find some breathing room and led 43-37 with 3:15 left in the second period.
The next three minutes were played at a frenzied pace. Canada scored at 3:10 to end its drought, but the USA put up five more quick points. Canada’s last points of the quarter came at 1:28 to make it 48-41, but the USA was not finished, going on a 6-0 run to head to the locker room with a 54-41 lead.
Turner scored the first six points of the second half for the USA as the teams traded scores to make it 60-45 with 8:04 remaining in the third quarter. With just 4.6 seconds on the clock, Caldwell collected a missed Canadian free throw and pushed the ball up the floor to find a teammate to beat the third-quarter buzzer with a 3-pointer to head into the final 10 minutes with the USA leading 83-59.
With the game’s outcome secured, the USA went on to tally 24 points to Canada’s 17 to bring the game to its 107-76 final.
The USA finished with a 45-18 rebounding advantage and forced 22 Canadian turnovers.
Shaylisha Colley finished with 21 points for Canada, while Bridget Carleton added 19 points.
Also today, in Group B, Brazil (2-1) topped Chile (1-2) 75-63 and Argentina (2-1) edged out Puerto Rico (1-2) 47-44; while in the USA’s Group A, Mexico (1-2) won against El Salvador (0-3) 74-37.
Chile, Puerto Rico, Mexico and El Salvador will meet in the consolation semifinals on Aug. 9 and will play our for fifth through eighth places.
“I'm looking forward to our semifinal game vs. Argentina tomorrow,” Caldwell said. “If we get by them, one more win for us and we will win gold."
The USA is looking for a seventh-straight gold medal at the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women, and is now 46-2 over all in the event since it was first held in 1988.
Additional Quotes from Recee' Caldwell
On how close the game was at the beginning:
"Our scrimmage was different, and we knew this would be different, too. We started with an 11-3 start, but then they came and punched us right in the mouth. I think they did a good job of giving us a good game, but I think our bench is really deep and I think that’s where we got them."
On Team USA's depth and bench production:
"We had a lot of players come off the bench and do a great job. They gave great energy and got some good buckets and steals, so I think we got them with our bench. Our bench is just so deep, and I don’t think anybody can compete with it."