Release courtesy of USA Basketball
MINSK, Belarus (July 21, 2018) - The 2018 USA Basketball Women's U17 World Cup Team (1-0) rolled to an 86-48 victory over Italy (0-1) in a game that featured 44 points in the paint and 35 points off of 26 forced turnovers, in its first game of the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup on July 21 in Minsk, Belarus.
Haley Jones (Archbishop Mitty H.S./Santa Cruz, Calif.) finished with 13 points; Paige Bueckers (Hopkins H.S./St. Louis Park, Minn.) added 12 points and five assists; and Hailey Van Lith (Cashmere H.S./Wenatchee, Wash.) scored 12 points.
Additionally, Jordan Horston (Columbus Africentric Early College/Columbus, Ohio) grabbed 10 rebounds to go with her three assists; and Aliyah Boston (Worcester Academy/St. Thomas, USVI) collected nine boards. Overall, the USA compiled a 62-34 rebounding advantage.
"It's good to get that first one under our belt," said Carla Berube, USA U17 and Tufts University head coach. "There were some lapses in the second quarter, but I think it was a great overall effort by everyone. We really shared the ball well. I wish we had taken care of the ball a little bit better and defended a little bit better, but it's a good first step for us in beating a really good Italian team. That's a great team, they did well in the U16 European Championship. So, it was a great first win for us.
"We have to take care of the ball better and make better decisions," added Berube about her team's 21 turnovers and 52.4 percent (11-21 FTs) shooting from the line. "About half of those were because of Italy, and half were us just not valuing the basketball. The free throws, we have to focus in, step up and make them. We want to be an attack team. So, we hope that we do get to the line and we can knock them down."
In the first quarter, the USA jumped ahead 23-10, and then outscored Italy 20-12 in the second period to lead 43-22 at halftime.
"We started off pretty solid," said Van Lith. "Then, they went on a run, but we answered right back and shut them down. That's when we just took off. It was really fun, it was a great atmosphere. I had a lot of fun with my teammates."
The U.S. defense gave up just eight points in the third quarter, and the USA went ahead 66-30 with the final 10 minutes to play.
Italy nearly kept pace with the USA in the fourth quarter, scoring 18 points to the USA's 20, but by then, the Americans already had secured the victory, winning 86-48.
The U.S. squad passed out 21 assists on 35 field goals and received nearly half its point total, 41, off the bench.
"We shared the ball really well tonight and did well on transition offense," said Jones. "We still have a lot to work on defensively, and that all comes through communication. We have great team chemistry already, and it's just going to keep getting better throughout the tournament. So, that helps us pull away in any game."
The USA next will take on Mali (0-1) at 8:30 a.m. EDT on July 22, and then will close preliminary round play against China (1-0) at 11:15 a.m. EDT on July 24. Both games will be available to watch live online at Facebook.com/USABasketball and YouTube.com/FIBAWorld.
"They're a strong team," Berube said of Mali. "They really move the ball well. They have good athletes who get up and down the floor, drive and create for each other. It's going to take a great defensive effort, and we're going to have to take care of the ball better, because they do get into the passing lanes and create some havoc."