USA earn chance to defend 2019 title with win over Mexico
GUANAJUATO (Mexico) – Coming into the game, USA had never allowed an opponent to score more than 43 points on them in a game yet in the competition, with Mexico being that team during the group stage. So when USA started the game by dropping 40 points in the first quarter, in contrast to Mexico’s 14, it was no surprise to anyone.
Maybe the most stunning part of the first quarter, and why USA was able to jump to a 26-point lead, was that they had zero turnovers in the quarter, while Mexico turned the ball over 11 times that led to 18 of USA’s first quarter points.
In total, Mexico committed 30 turnovers in the match and 51 of USA’s points came off of turnovers in the game while USA committed only five turnovers total.
The defending champions were not going to let anyone get in their way of capturing another gold medal, and USA held Mexico to just one basket the whole second quarter. On the offensive end, the team extended their lead to 58, scoring another 34 points in the second half.
Juju Watkins, team USA’s leader throughout the tournament, led USA in both points and rebounds at the half tallying 12 points and 7 rebounds. Breya Cunningham, a solid starter for USA throughout the tournament, had 11 points at the half while Olivia Olson had 10.
Mexico had a better showing in the third quarter, netting 9 points as well as holding USA to only 22, the lowest they scored through three quarters, but USA still led by over 70 going into the final quarter, a gap that even the electricity of the home crowd could not help Mexico overcome.
In the final quarter, Mexico could not muster up the defense needed to stop team USA’s elite bench, one of the best in the competition, as the USA scored 53 of their points from the bench in the game.
Scoring 25 points in the final 10 minutes, USA finished off the Semi-Final with a 121-30 win to secure a spot on the podium and a chance to get a third U16 Americas Women’s Championship gold medal in a row.
USA shot 50 percent from the three-point line, shooting 8 of 16 from beyond the arc, and tripled that of their opponent off the glass, out-rebounding Mexico 61 to 20.
Gizel Navarro led Mexico in scoring with 9 points, while Loriette Maciel added 8, but only two other players on the Mexican side scored at least 4 points, shooting 26 percent from the floor as a team.
Six different scorers on USA finished in double-digit scoring, with Cunningham scoring a team leading 18 points and 7 rebounds, with Watkins finishing with 16 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.
“We just focused on teamwork and playing together and passing the ball, a lot of our points just came off of extra passes and finding the open person, unselfish plays,” said Cunningham.