Aug. 1, 2011
Everything came together at the right time for the 2011 USA Basketball Women’s U19 World Championship Team (7-1) and it wasted no time in jumping out to a 25-15 lead and rolling to a 69-46 victory over Spain (5-3) to earn the 2011 FIBA U19 World Championship gold medal on Sunday night in Puerto Montt, Chile.
The U.S., which also defeated Spain in the 2009 U19 gold medal game and has won four consecutive U19 golds, received 15 points apiece from Stefanie Dolson (Connecticut / Port Jervis, N.Y.), Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Mater Dei H.S. / Anaheim, Calif.) and Elizabeth Williams (Princess Anne H.S. / Virginia Beach, Va.), while Ariel Massengale (Bolingbrook H.S. / Bolingbrook, Ill.) scored 10 points and passed out seven assists.
Massengale and Breanna Stewart (Cicero-North Syracuse H.S. / North Syracuse, N.Y.) were named to the five-member All-FIBA U19 World Championship Team along with the MVP Damiris Dantas of Brazil, who led all competitors for scoring (20.9 ppg.) and rebounding (12.6 rpg.); Spain’s Astou Ndour, who scored a team-high 10 points against the USA; and Japan’s Rui Machida, the tournament’s assist leader (6.2 apg.).
Brazil (7-2) took the bronze medal, its first ever at the U19 Worlds, with a narrow 70-67 defeat of Australia (6-3), which hasn’t medaled at the event since 1997.
This marks the second world championship gold medal for seven of the USA’s players. Jordan Adams (Mater Dei H.S. / Irvine, Calif.), Cierra Burdick (Butler H.S. / Matthews, N.C.), Massengale, Mosqueda-Lewis, Stewart, Morgan Tuck (Bolingbrook H.S. / Bolingbrook, Ill.) and Williams were on the 2010 USA squad that captured the inaugural FIBA U17 World Championship gold medal last summer in France.
“I’m very excited to be standing up here as the gold medal winner,” said Jennifer Rizzotti, USA U19 World Championship Team and University of Hartford head coach. “I don’t think I realized it until I arrived here and saw our competition, how difficult this tournament would be to win. Our play early in the tournament was inconsistent and we had to rely so much on individual talent. We didn’t play as a team. But, I’m very happy to see that after these three weeks, our team was able to come together and play its best basketball in the final two games. I feel like we learned a lot from all of the teams here, especially a team like Spain, who out of everybody here plays the best team basketball at both ends of the court. We learned a lot from Brazil, who plays with more passion than any other team here. We just need to put all of that together, the team basketball that Spain plays and the passion like Brazil plays and I thought that our team was able to do that tonight. That’s why we won the gold medal.”
“I want to give credit to Spain,” said Massengale, who dished out 39 assists over the nine games, which set a new USA U19 record. “They played a great game tonight. I’m just grateful of how my teammates came out to play. We were really focused tonight. We’ve been on this journey for three weeks and all of it paid off tonight in the gold medal game. We had a great coaching staff to top it all off.”
The USA is now 57-12 all-time in U19/Junior World Championship play, and has posted a remarkable 45-4 mark since 1997. After finishing no higher than fifth in the first three junior worlds, the American women have medaled in each of the last six tournaments, including winning five golds (1997, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011) and one bronze medal (2001). This marks the second medal for Spain in U19 play as it previously earned its first silver medal in the 2009 FIBA U19 World Championship.
“It feels amazing (winning a world championship),” said Dolson. “Last year was an experience of a lifetime because that was qualifying for here. Then winning the world championship gold medal is so surreal. Getting up there, getting the gold around your neck, it’s a moment you’ll never forget. It feels great.”
The opening minutes saw three lead changes and at 7:14 Williams, who had struggled at the line throughout the tournament, converted on a 3-point play to knot the score at 6-all. Mosqueda-Lewis followed that with five straight points as the USA’s lead went up to 11-6 at 6:18. Spain countered with a three to pull within two points, 11-9, but the USA outscored the Europeans 14-3, including five points from the line and a layup from Dolson, and with 31 seconds left in the first quarter the Americans led 25-12. Spain hit its third trey of the quarter to cut it back down to 10 points at the first break.
Spain made some adjustments, but was unable to slow the tempo in the second quarter and unlike the first quarter when the squad drove in and kicked back out, the U.S. fed it inside to Dolson and Williams. The duo combined for 10 points as the red, white and blue upped its lead to 35-19 with 2:35 to play before halftime. By the midway point, the score was 37-22.
The U.S. steadily increased its lead, outscoring Spain 19-14 and with 10 minutes to go before gold, owned a 20-point, 56-36 upper hand and cruised through the fourth quarter before being able to collect their gold medals.
The USA’s team play produced 21 assists on 25 field goals and outrebounded Spain by a slim 47-42 margin. The USA shot just 39.7 percent shooting (25-63 FTs) from the field, but held Spain to 28.8 percent (19-66 FGs) shooting from the field.
“Never can it get old,” said three-time gold medalist Adams, who also captured gold with the 2009 USA U16 National Team. “It’s just as exciting as the first time, that feeling of winning gold, with everyone screaming for you, you’re holding your teammates hand and wearing that heavy medal around your neck, there’s nothing like it. You can’t buy this feeling.”
In classification games, Canada (8-1) defeated France (6-3) 70-52 to finish in fifth place, while Japan (4-5) finished in seventh after clipping Russia (3-6) 71-66.
Only U.S. citizens who are 19 years old or younger (born on or after Jan. 1, 1992) are eligible for this team.
Assistant coaches for the USA U19 World Championship Team are Sue Semrau of Florida State University and Joi Williams of the University of Central Florida.
Originally known as the FIBA Junior World Championship, the tournament was held every four years from 1985 through 2005. FIBA now conducts the U19 World Championship every other year. Prior to this year’s start, USA women’s teams were 49-11 all-time in U19/Junior World Championships, most recently capturing a third consecutive gold with an 8-1 record in 2009.
Coach Sue Semrau Quotes
“It was fun to watch the team come together the way they did. (Head coach) Jen (Rizzotti) did a fantastic job of sticking with what was important. Just having the opportunity to work alongside two tremendous head coaches and a great group of girls was the chance of a lifetime.”
On the difficulty of winning the gold
“This is what we live for, it is what we do. I don’t think difficult is the word as much as intense. It was an intense time. It feels good to be rewarded for the time we put in.
Release courtesy of USA Basketball