With an 88-62 win over China Sunday night, Team USA clinched the top seed out of preliminary round Group B in the FIBA U19 World Championships in Russia. Half of the Americans’ points came in the paint, largely in part to their 25 offensive boards.
The U.S. will now face the loser of Argentina and Taiwan in its round of 16 game on Wednesday. However, the U.S. first has to play 0-2 Egypt on Tuesday, but will claim the tournament’s No. 1 seed regardless of the outcome.
“One of the biggest strengths of our team is our length,” said USA U-19 and University of South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley (in a USA Basketball release). “We have six post players on this team. Unfortunately Kristine (Anigwe) was a little under the weather today, otherwise we would have shown them all six of our post players. And they’re all different.”
A’ja Wilson led the team with 17 points and 10 rebounds in only 17 minutes, while Napheesa Collier and Azura Stevens adding 17 and 16 points, respectively. The Americans got out to a 26-point halftime lead after a slow start that saw China take an 11-10 lead. But shortly after a 12-11 advantage, Staley’s squad never looked back.
Team USA ended up out-rebounding China 60-25, finishing the game with a 22-0 advantage on second-chance points. China only tallied three offensive rebounds in the game.
“They all bring a really big presence,” said Mariya Moore (Louisville/Richmond, Calif.) regarding her team’s post players. “I think that other teams focus on our inside, and even though they focus on it, we still get enough points inside.”
China turned the ball over 17 times, but forcred the Americans to 16 turnovers of their own. The difference: the U.S. gave up 16 less points on their giveaways.
“Egypt gave China a really hard-fought battle, but just came up short,”Staley said. “They played a lot of zone, so we should anticipate them playing us a little bit of a zone, packing it in, and maybe forcing us to shoot from the outside.”