Release Courtesy of USA Basketball
MINSK, Belarus - The 2018 USA Basketball Women's U17 World Cup Team (4-0) was in control throughout in a 92-48 win against Colombia (0-4) in the round of 16 at the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup on July 25 in Minsk, Belarus. The win propelled the USA in the quarterfinals, where it will take on Spain (2-2) at 11:45 p.m. EDT on July 27.
The USA's quarterfinal game against Spain will be available to watch live online at Facebook.com/USABasketball and YouTube.com/FIBAWorld. Regardless of who is playing, both medal semifinals on July 28 and the bronze and gold medal games on July 29 will be available on ESPN+.
Aliyah Boston (Worcester Academy/St. Thomas, USVI) led the USA with 21 points and nine rebounds; Azzi Fudd (St. John's College H.S., D.C./Arlington, Va.) scored 17 points; Haley Jones (Archbishop Mitty H.S./Santa Cruz, Calif.) added 14 points, nine rebounds and five assists; and Paige Bueckers (Hopkins H.S./St. Louis Park, Minn.) finished with 10 points and eight assists.
"I liked the second half much more than the first half," said Carla Berube, USA U17 and Tufts University head coach. "We were a little flat defensively to start the game. Give credit to Colombia, they were really working for shots, setting a lot of screens. We could have done a better job of helping each other out, sliding our feet and just communicating more. Then, I thought the team really brought it in the second half. Our defense did a much better job, and it led to some easy scoring opportunities. We did a good job of executing what we wanted in the second half."
After allowing Colombia to hit 11-of-33 from the field and 3-of-12 beyond the arc in the first half, the USA's defense clamped down and allowed just seven points from field goals over the game's final 20 minutes as Colombia connected on a frigid 3-of-22 of its field goal attempts, including 1-of-10 from 3-point.
The USA jumped out to a 14-0 lead and, overall in the first quarter, shot 63.2 percent from the field (12-19 FGs).
In the second quarter, the USA increased its advantage by just one point, outscoring Colombia 20-19 to take a 46-27 lead at halftime.
"They have a team of really good shooters, so in the first half we were lacking on defense, and they got some good shots and hit them," said Bueckers. "But, in the second half we made adjustments. We came out stronger, and we won the second half by a lot."
The third period saw the USA limit Colombia to just 11 points, while scoring 20 of its own to move ahead 70-38 with 10 minutes to play.
The fourth quarter was the USA's most explosive, and the red, white and blue put up 32 points while holding Colombia scoreless for the first seven minutes and allowing only four points.
"I think it was our depth and intensity," said Azzi on the USA's second half defensive effort. "The five that started the quarter started off strong. Then the bench went in and kept it going. The energy on the bench kept it alive. We also started playing USA defense."
The USA outrebounded Colombia by a 58-18 margin, dished out 30 assists and finished the game shooting 46.1 percent (35-76 FGs) from the field and 35.0 percent (7-20 3pt FGs) from afar.
"It's something that's going to help us win," said Boston when asked about the team's selflessness. "We make plays for each other, and we're going to continue to do that as we move through with these games."
The USA U17 women have a 3-0 all-time record against Spain in FIBA U17 World Cup play, but the margin was just two points, 77-75, in the 2014 gold medal game.
"We'll get prepared for Spain, they had a big win today over Canada that we watched as a staff," said Berube. "So, we'll prepare for them, as well as for us just getting better in execution. We'll work on our defense, and the goal is to be feeling 100 percent ready and confident for Spain. That's the only game that's ahead of us right now. If all goes well, we'll survive and advance."