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Aug 9, 2014 12:21 AM by Posted by Greg Smith

USA U18 Women Fend Off Canada For 107-76 Win, Secure No. 1 Seed Into Semifinals

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (Aug. 8, 2014) -- The 2014 USA Basketball Women's U18 National Team (3-0) rode a game-changing 19-4 second-quarter run to an eventual 107-76 win over previously unbeaten Canada (2-1) in the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship on Friday night at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The game saw six lead changes and five tied scores, all of those coming in the first half, before the USA took control.

With the win, the USA secured the No. 1 seed out of Group A and will face Argentina (2-1), the No. 2 seed of Group B, in the semifinals at 5:30 p.m. (MDT) on Aug. 9. All games are available live online at fibaamericas.com, and admission to the championship is free.

Canada will play Group B's No. 1 seed Brazil (2-1) in the first semifinal at 3:30 p.m. (MDT), and the semifinal winners will meet in the gold medal game on Aug. 10. The four semifinal teams, by ensuring a top-four finish in the tournament, have qualified for the 2015 FIBA U19 World Championship in Russia.

Napheesa Collier (Incarnate Word Academy/O'Fallon, Mo.) led the USA with 22 points, 10 rebounds and four steals; and Brianna Turner (Manvel H.S/Pearland, Texas), who finished with 21 points and eight rebounds, set USA U18 women's records for free throws made and attempted by shooting 9-of-11 from the line.

"We knew Canada was going to come out and play extremely well against us in the beginning, but what we told our team was, 'a marathon isn't won in the first mile,'" said USA head coach Dawn Staley (University of South Carolina). "I like what we bring into this tournament over a 40-minute period, and I thought we responded. We got some great contributions off the bench. Napheesa Collier -- beautiful performance. It's incredible to watch her operate night in and night out. This is what she does every single night; she doesn't take plays off and that's why she willed us to this win today."

As a team, the USA shot 29-of-33 from the free throw line (.879), and three more players reached double-digit scoring, including 16 points from A'ja Wilson (Heathwood Hall H.S./ Hopkins, S.C.), 11 points from Marina Mabrey (Manasquan H.S./Manasquan, N.J.) and 10 points from Mariya Moore (Salesian H.S./Richmond, Calif.).

Wilson and her U.S. teammate Beatrice Mompremier (Miami H.S./Miami, Fla.) suited up for the USA on their 18th birthdays.

The USA jumped out to a 9-0 lead to start the game before Canada fought back to tie the score at 11-11 at 5:42 in the first quarter. From there the teams went back and forth, and Canada, which made two 3-pointers in the last 2:20, led 23-21 at the first intermission. The two-point deficit was the first time in the tournament that the USA had trailed at a quarter break.

"We had never been down in a game yet, and they were a wake up call," said Paris Kea (Page H.S./Greensboro, N.C.) of Canada. "We had to come together as a team, and it definitely helped us bond more. We saw a different side of each other. We figured out whom to call on and when to call on them."

A bucket from Collier to start the second period knotted the score, but Canada responded with another shot from behind the arc, and by the 7:23 mark had built a 33-27 advantage. Free throws from Turner and back-to-back three-point plays from Collier and Moore tied the game up at 35-35 at 6:01. Canada scored once more before the USA launched an 8-0 run to find some breathing room and lead 43-37 at 3:15 when Mabrey scored on a drive to the basket.

The next three minutes were played at a frenzied pace. Canada scored at 3:10 to end its drought, but the USA put up five more quick points thanks to a pull-up jumper from Kea and a 3-pointer from Mabrey. Canada's last points of the quarter came at 1:28 to make it 48-41, but the USA was not finished. Mabrey sank two free throws, and then a steal and fast-break bucket from Collier was followed by a steal and assist from Ariel Atkins (Duncanville H.S./Duncanville, Texas) that led to a bucket from Mabrey at 3.0 seconds, and the USA headed to the locker room with a 54-41 lead.

"It was a competitive start; Canada stayed with us the whole first half," Turner said. "There were a lot of fouls called. We had to adjust and play better defense."

 

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