Box Score (PDF)
Led by a double-double of 20 points and 15 rebounds from Nneka Ogwumike (Cy-Fair H.S. / Cypress, Texas), the 2008 USA Women's U18 National Team (5-0) concluded its run through the FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women unscathed with an 81-37 drubbing of host Argentina (2-3) Sunday night in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The team's first-place finish qualified the USA for the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship, along with runner-up Canada (4-1), third place Brazil (3-2) and fourth place Argentina (2-3).
A pair of Tennessee Lady Vol rookies Shekinna Stricklen (Morrilton H.S. / Morrilton, Ark.) and Alyssia Brewer (Sapulpa H.S. / Sapulpa, Okla.) helped the USA to the gold medal finish. The pair was all over the boards as Stricklen, a starter, collected 12 rebounds while Brewer grabbed seven boards.
"I feel awesome," said USA and Northern Illinois head coach Carol Owens. "Words cannot express how far this team has come since the first day of training camp. We are a gold medal team, and that is something that they can cherish for the rest of their lives. I'm probably going to wear my medal around my neck all the way home."
Playing in front of its home crowd, Argentina managed to keep pace with the Americans through the first quarter. Ogwumike put the game's first four points on the board with two offensive rebounds as the USA jumped to a 4-0 tally, but Argentina answered with a 3-pointer and continued to counter the USA's offense in front of a standing-room-only crowd. The two teams traded baskets for the first 10 minutes, and the score was 19-16 in the USA's advantage after one.
Argentina tied the game at 19 points with a 3-pointer to start the second period, but the USA turned up its defensive intensity and launched a 21-7 run that stretched all the way to the halftime buzzer. Ogwumike tallied 16 first half points to help the red, white and blue head to the locker room holding a 40-26 advantage.
"We knew that we had already secured the gold medal, but we felt it would mean so much more if we stayed undefeated," Ogwumike said. "I just went out and played hard and tried to keep my teammates focused as well. Anytime there is a crowd, whether they are for you or against you, it gets you fired up. We really fed off that energy."
The third period may have been the USA's best 10 minutes of the entire tournament. Seven players combined for 20 points in the period as the USA held Argentina to just one made basket that came with just 1:40 left on the clock. The Americans grabbed 13 offensive rebounds in that period alone.
"They were focused and ready to go, and they fed off the crowd," Owens said. "We knew Argentina didn't shoot particularly well, so we wanted to take away their drive and the girls executed the game plan."
The fourth period was more of the same U.S. domination, and the scoreboard read 81-37 when the final buzzer sounded.
Kelsey Bone (Dulles H.S. / Stafford, Texas) tallied 12 points and nine rebounds; Skylar Diggins (Washington H.S. / South Bend, Ind.) contributed 11 points, four assists and four rebounds; Kelly Faris (Heritage Christian / Plainfield, Ind.) added eight points and six rebounds.
Helping the USA dominate the glass, Shekinna Stricklen (Morrilton H.S. / Morrilton, Ark.) collected 12 boards and Alyssia Brewer (Sapulpa H.S. / Sapulpa, Okla.) collected seven. Much like its other four games, the USA held a rebounding over Argentina, this time an impressive 68-26 tally.
"Winning a gold medal kind of makes you speechless," Faris said. "Not only did we win the gold medal for us, but every person who saw us wanted us to win it for them too. It's an accomplishment that a lot of people don't have a chance to experience, and it feels good."
On winning a gold medal:
"It feels good knowing that we came to Argentina and accomplished our goal of winning the gold medal. We went through two-a-days and a lot of practice, and I'm happy we did what we set out to do."
On winning a gold medal:
"It feels great. We've been training really hard, harder than we were used to, and we all really wanted this."
On the experience:
"I have to say playing was my favorite part. Out on the court we are all together and cheering each other on, and that was a really great feeling."
USA U18 Secures Gold Medal Finish
Buenos Aires, Argentina -- Jumping to a 21-4 lead after just five minutes of play, the 2008 USA Basketball Women's U18 National Team (4-0) once again easily defeated its FIBA Americas U18 Championship opponent in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this time capturing a 96-51 win over Brazil (2-2) Saturday night. All 12 U.S. players scored in the game, including nine players with points in the first quarter.
With the 2008 zone qualifier being played in a round-robin format, the win clinched a gold medal finish for the Americans, as only Canada (3-1), whom the USA has already beaten, could match the red, white and blue's four wins in the tournaments final games tomorrow.
Also this evening, Canada topped Puerto Rico (0-4) 78-65, and Venezuela (1-2) will meet host Argentina (1-2) at 7 p.m. (6 p.m. EDT).
Soon-to-be Tennessee Lady Vol rookies Shekinna Stricklen (Morrilton H.S. / Morrilton, Ark.) and Alyssia Brewer (Sapulpa H.S. / Sapulpa, Okla.) helped the USA to the win. Stricklen, a starter, scored 11 points and snagged seven rebounds in 21 minutes. In a limited nine minutes, Brewer handed in three rebounds, two assists and two steals in nine minutes.
"I think we had the knockout punch in the first quarter," head coach Carol Owens said. "We put them back on their heels, and then they never recovered. We knew that they didn't necessarily shoot well from the outside, but we were concerned about their dribble penetration and their transition offense, so we sent two guards back every time to contain them. That cut their scoring in half."
Four different U.S. players sank four 3-pointers in the first quarter to help the USA race to a 35-10 lead in the first 10 minutes. The USA entered the game having made just nine 3-pointers in its previous three games.
"I think Brazil was really trying to focus on our bigs, and so our guards were able to get open looks and knock them down early," said Skylar Diggins (Washington H.S. / South Bend, Ind.), who finished with 13 points, six rebounds and three assists. "We knew how big this game was in our run to the gold medal. We just tried to bring the intensity early and put the game out of reach. We got out to some fast break points and crashed the boards early, and that helped set the tone."
Nneka Ogwumike (Cy-Fair H.S. / Cypress, Texas), who also added eight rebounds, tallied 10 of her 13 points in the second quarter as the U.S. lead stretched to 56-22 at halftime.
"We took care of the job, and it felt great out on the floor," Ogwumike said. "Everyone was together, and everyone was playing hard. I would have to say it was our best game because we had less turnovers and more offensive boards, and we didn't ever let up."
Indeed the USA maintained its intensity, outscoring Brazil 19-14 in the third period and 21-15 in the fourth to bring the final score to 96-15. Outrebounding the South Americans 58-23, the USA also tallied 29 offensive boards and 19 second chance points.
Sarah Boothe (Warren Township H.S. / Gurnee, Ill.) added 12 points; Stricklen tallied 11 points and seven rebounds; Nikki Speed (Marlborough H.S. / Pasadena, Calif.) and Joslyn Tinkle (Big Sky H.S. / Missoula, Mont.) each contributed nine points; and Kelsey Bone (Dulles H.S. / Stafford, Texas)and Ashley Corral (Prairie H.S. / Vancouver, Wash.) both scored eight points.
The top four finishing teams in the U18 Americas championship earn a berth into the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship, scheduled for Bangkok, Thailand. The USA concludes its action against host Argentina at 6 p.m. (5 p.m. EDT) on July 27.
"This feels good, but we aren't done," Stricklen said. "Tomorrow is our last game, and we are playing the home team. We won't have any trouble getting fired up because there will be a big crowd and their fans are really loud. We just need come back focused, and have fun. We want to go out with a big bang."
U18 Women crush Puerto Rico 116-36
Box Score (PDF)
The 2008 USA Basketball Women's U18 National Team (3-0) took its first lead 19 seconds into its game against winless Puerto Rico (0-3) Friday night in the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and never looked back. Racing to an 80-point romp that featured six U.S. scorers in double digits, the 116-36 win was the USA's largest margin of victory yet.
Incoming University of Tennessee Lady Vol rookies Shekinna Stricklen (Morrilton H.S. / Morrilton, Ark.) and Alyssia Brewer (Sapulpa H.S. / Sapulpa, Okla.) chipped in a few contributions of their own. Stricklen scored four points and grabbed five rebounds in 14 minutes. Brewer was a monster on the boards for the USA snagging a team high 11 rebounds while chipping in nine points in 4-4 shooting from the field.
The undefeated USA squad will continue play tomorrow facing 2-1 Brazil at 3:00 p.m.
In today's other games, Brazil (2-1) beat Venezuela (1-2) 89-76; while host Argentina (1-1) plays Canada (1-1) at 7 p.m. (8 p.m. EDT).
"I thought our kids did a great job of executing our offense tonight and playing at our level," said USA and Northern Illinois head coach Carol Owens. "Puerto Rico played a lot of zone defense, but we obviously handled it well. I still think we need to shoot better from the free throw line, but the girls did a good job of staying focused despite the score.
"Coming into tonight's game I wanted us to be more efficient in taking care of the ball and crashing the glass, so we set a goal of no more than 18 turnovers and at least 20 offensive boards, and we accomplished that. I think because we had goals, we were able to stay focused throughout, and the team maintained its intensity."
Statistically dominate in nearly every category, the red, white and blue outrebounded Puerto Rico an astounding 62-18 and tallied 26 fast break points to Puerto Rico's zero transition baskets.
Ashley Corral (Prairie H.S. / Vancouver, Wash.) was the game's high scorer with 16 points to go with four assists, three rebounds and two steals. Lynetta Kizer (Potomac H.S. / Woodbridge, Va.) contributed 13 points and four rebounds; while Sarah Boothe (Warren Township H.S. / Gurnee, Ill.), Skylar Diggins (Washington H.S. / South Bend, Ind.) and Samantha Prahalis (Commack H.S. / Dix Hills, N.Y.) each scored 12 points. Joslyn Tinkle (Big Sky H.S. / Missoula, Mont.) rounded out the double-digit scorers with 11 points and nine rebounds.
Led by Nneka Ogwumike (Cy-Fair H.S. / Cypress, Texas), who tallied all nine of her points in the first quarter, the Americans had jumped to a 25-6 lead after the first 10 minutes.
The next ten minutes featured Corral, who tallied eight points in the second period as the USA outscored Puerto Rico 30-13 to bring the U.S. advantage to 36 points at halftime, 55-19.
"Our inside-out game really worked well tonight, and we were knocking down shots when the posts kicked the ball out," Corral said. "The scoreboard wasn't really the issue, it was our team goals that we were really focused on going after, and we made progress. We turned the ball over half as much as we used to and we double our rebounds. I think we got a lot better."
Kelsey Bone (Dulles H.S. / Stafford, Texas) and Boothe combined on the interior for 14 of the USA's 30 third quarter points, while Argentina managed just 11. And in its highest scoring period of the tournament, the USA posted 31 points to Puerto Rico's six in the fourth quarter to bring the final tally to 116-36.
Alyssia Brewer (Sapulpa H.S. / Sapulpa, Okla.) grabbed 11 rebounds to go with her nine points; and Kelly Faris (Heritage Christian / Plainfield, Ind.) recorded six points, six rebounds and six assists.
"We did a good job doing the small things tonight, getting up and down the court and hitting he floor after loose balls," Brewer said. "We moved the ball well and found the open people."
The 2008 zone qualifier is being played in a round robin format, with the top four finishing teams earning a berth into the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship. The USA next plays Brazil at 3 p.m. (4 p.m. EDT) on July 26, followed by Argentina at 7 p.m. on July 27.
"I expect a fast-paced game against Brazil," Owens said. "They like to score in transition, and that's a big part of their offense. We have to be able to contain their transition game. They have some big guards and some big post players, so we really need to be ready to defend."
Owens is assisted on the U.S. sideline by Bill Fennelly of Iowa State University and Terri Mitchell of Marquette University.
On the game:
"We did a good job doing the small things tonight, gettting up and down the court and hitting he floor after loose balls. We moved the ball well and found the open people. It can be hard to stay intense for 40 minutes when you are up by so many points, but I thought we did that tonight."
"Eleven of us played against most of the Brazillian team last year at the Youth Development Festival. They have gotten better, and we have gotten better. Now it's just who wants it more."
U18 National Team Tops Canada 72-56
Box Score (PDF)BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Leading by just two points after the first quarter, the 2008 USA Basketball Women's U18 National Team (2-0) outscored Canada (1-1) 24-5 in the second period to secure an easy 72-56 win Thursday in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women in Buenos Aires, Argentina. With two wins under its belt, the USA has guaranteed a top-four finish in the tournament and secured a berth into the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship.
In today's other games, Venezuela (1-1) crushed Puerto Rico (0-2) 89-52, while host Argentina (1-0) meets Brazil (0-1) at 7 p.m. local time (6 p.m. EDT).
Incoming University of Tennessee Lady Vol rookies Shekinna Stricklen (Morrilton H.S. / Morrilton, Ark.) and Alyssia Brewer (Sapulpa H.S. / Sapulpa, Okla.) aided the USA cause. Stricklen, a starter versus Canada led the team in scoring with 13 points and added eight rebounds in 27 minutes. Brewer posted five rebounds and two blocks in eight minutes of action for a balanced USA team.
"I'm really excited about our defense," said USA and Northern Illinois University head coach Carol Owens. "Canada was a very good team, and we were able to contain them. We are an athletic enough team that we can switch positions one through four, and that athleticism gives teams problems."
The red, white and blue once again displayed its depth with 11 of the 12 team members scoring. Stricklen led the way with 13 points and eight rebounds, and Kelsey Bone (Dulles H.S. / Stafford, Texas) added 12 points and nine boards.
The USA opened the game red hot, and the scoreboard read 9-0 when Canada called its first time out at 7:11. The break in action helped Canada respond with its own 14-2 run, and the score was 14-11 in Canada's favor at 2:29 in the first period.
A made basket from Stricklen, an incoming rookie for the 2007 and 2008 NCAA Champion University of Tennessee Lady Vols, with just 14 seconds remaining the opening stanza, however, recaptured the lead for the Americans, 19-17, and the USA never again trailed.
"The coaches really got me pumped up and told me to crash the boards," Stricklen said. "I felt good out there, but mostly it was that the team was all together today. Everybody was crashing and talking, and we were focused on defense. That's how we fought off their run and got the win early in the game. Then we just needed to hold on."
Turning up its defensive intensity in the second period, the USA held Canada to just five points in the second period while five U.S. players combined for 24 points. Bone led the way, scoring six of her 12 points in the stanza.
"I'm really happy because this may have been our biggest game, and we were able to come out and get the win," Bone said. "I think our biggest focus has to be to continue talking, and for a full 40 minutes. We talk sometimes, and then it dies off and teams are able to make runs. We need to learn to talk through the whole game."
On the game:
"The coaches really got me pumped up and told me to crash the boards. I felt good out there, but mostly it was that the team was all together today. Everybody was crashing and talking, and we were focused on defense. That's how we fought off their run and got the win early in the game. Then we just needed to hold on."
On qualifying for the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship:
"I don't think we'll slow down now that we are qualified at all. We want to win all five games, and we will keep the intensity up."
USA U18 Women post 112-49 blowout of Venezuela
Box Score (PDF)
Buenos Aires, Argentina - The 2008 USA Basketball Women's U18 National Team (1-0) simply overpowered Venezuela (0-1) Wednesday in its first game of the 2008 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Women, scoring an astounding 78 points in the paint on the way to a 112-48 blowout in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Incoming University of Tennessee Lady Vol rookies Shekinna Stricklen (Morrilton H.S. / Morrilton, Ark.) and Alyssia Brewer (Sapulpa H.S. / Sapulpa, Okla.) aided the USA cause. Stricklen, a starter versus Venezuela, posted eight points and six rebounds in 14 minutes of action while Brewer came off the bench to add 12 points and a team-leading nine rebounds in 14 minutes on the floor.
"Once we got the ball down low, we just seemed to dominate," said Brewer. "They couldn't compete with us physically, and we took advantage of that."
Led by 13 points apiece from post players Kelsey Bone (Dulles H.S. / Stafford, Texas) and Lynetta Kizer (Potomac H.S. / Woodbridge, Va.), every U.S. team member scored and six players finished in double figures. The well-balanced attack included 62 points of the bench, and 26 points off of Venezuela's 38 turnovers.
In the day's second game, Canada (1-0) topped Brazil (0-1) 67-47; while Argentina meets Puerto Rico at 7:15 p.m. local time (6:15 EDT).
"A win is always good, and I thought we made an improvement from the first to the second half," said USA and University of Northern Illinois head coach Carol Owens. "We obviously had the height advantage, and if we don't take advantage of that, shame on us.
"We made some improvements in terms of transition defense and knowing how to execute with the ball in transition in the second half. So, we're really pleased with the win, but not satisfied of course. We still have a ways to go, and we need to continue to work on our defense and our rebounding, which are things that need to continue to define this team."
Skylar Diggins (Washington H.S. / South Bend, Ind.) connected with Bone for the game's first assist and two points at the 9:32 mark, and the play was a sign of things to come as the Americans went on to record seven assists on nine made baskets in the first 10 minutes. Bone collected seven of her 13 points in the period as the USA outscored Venezuela 25-10.
Venezuela produced its best segment in the second quarter, capping a 16-point period with a bucket at the buzzer from the game's high scorer, Roselis Silva Serrano, who finished with 20 points. The effort was in vain, however, as the USA added 25 points to the board to bring the score to 50-26 at halftime. Bone reached her game total of 13 points in the second stanza with six more points before the half, and she was joined by Brewer, who also tallied six points in the period.
The USA emerged from the locker room firing, and the score was 59-26 when Venezuela tried to cool a 9-0 run with a time out at the 8:02 mark. Ten points was all Venezuela could manage, however, as the USA, behind eight points from Nneka Ogwumike (Cy-Fair H.S. / Cypress, Texas), finished the period with a 45-point lead, and the score was 81-36 headed into the fourth period.
The score ballooned to its 112-49 final with 31 more points from the USA in the fourth quarter and just 13 points from Venezuela.
"I've never seen the scoreboard go past 100 in a game before, so I was pretty excited," Ogwumike said. "Nothing is guaranteed. That last game doesn't matter anymore, and we are focusing on what's next. Right now, we are just going to take it one game at a time and try to win the gold medal.
Brewer and Ogwumike finished with 12 points each, as well as nine and five rebounds, respectively. Diggins added 11 points and six assists, and Nikki Speed (Marlborough H.S. / Pasadena, Calif.), who dished out five assists, rounded out the double-figure scoring with 10 points.
Samantha Prahalis (Commack H.S. / Dix Hills, N.Y.) recorded game-highs of seven assists and six steals to go with nine points; Kelly Faris (Heritage Christian / Plainfield, Ind.) added six assists; while Bone, Sarah Boothe (Warren Township H.S. / Gurnee, Ill.) and Stricklen collected six rebounds each.
The 2008 zone qualifier is being played in a round robin format, with the top four finishing teams earning a berth into the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship. The USA next plays Canada on July 24 at 3 p.m. local time (4 p.m. EDT); followed by Puerto Rico at 5 p.m. on July 25; Brazil at 3 p.m. on July 26; and Argentina at 7 p.m. on July 27.
"We can feed off this win, but we have to remember that there are much tougher teams out there," said Kizer. "It feels good to win big, but we have to keep working if we want to win the gold medal. We worked really hard to get here, and we can't afford to lose focus.
Assisting Owens on the USA sidelines is Bill Fennelly of Iowa State University and Terri Mitchell of Marquette University.
Quoting Alyssia Brewer
On the post play:
"Once we got the ball down low, we just seemed to dominate. They couldn't compete with us physically, and we took advantage of that."
On the team:
"We had chemistry from the very beginning of the game, but we struggled with turnovers and we gave up too many offensive rebounds."
"I think playing Canada will be much tougher. They are closer to us physically, and we play the same type of game. We need to cut down on our turnovers and continue to rebound if we want to win."