--By Mike Gilpatrick
--Photo by Seth Spalding
Team USA will go for the gold.
Team USA, coached by UofL women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz will face off against Canada in the FIBA Women’s U18 gold medal game tonight.
Walz’s squad defeated Columbia 83-47 on Monday. The win was partially due to a 17-0 run in the second quarter. It gave the Americans momentum. It was kicked off by a three from Ashley Joens, who committed to Iowa State. Five points were from Nazahrah Hillmon-Baker (Michigan/Cleveland, OH). Two threes were also from Rhyne Howard.
The USA led 42-26 at halftime. Columbia cut the game to 11 points in the third with 4:54 left, but USA outscored Columbia 7-1 to close out the quarter.
“It was a great basketball game” Walz said, “We knew it was going to be competitive, and it was the one that we needed, because we needed to understand when you have breakdowns.”
Jenna Brown (Stanford/Smyrna, GA) led scoring with 17 points. Joens and Howard finished with 14, and Olivia Nelson-Ododa (Connecticut/Winder, GA) had 12.
“I thought that group out that was out there four us at the end of the first half really gave us the boost we needed, and then we were able to continue. It’s something we have to learn from and continue to grow, and hopefully take another step tomorrow night.”
Canada is second in points, fourth in field goal shooting, fourth in assists, and second in efficiency. Christina Morra leads the team with 14.8 points/game. She is tied for third in the tournament. Canada is ranked fourth worldwide.
Canada faced Columbia, El Salvador, and Mexico in group play. They defeated Columbia 73-49, El Salvador 81-52, and Mexico 65-54. A strong 22-7 first quarter put them ahead against Chile in the quarterfinals, with a final score of 98-52, and 15 points, 14 boards, and two assists led Canada against Argentina in the Semifinals. Four players scored double-digits in the 77-71 win to advance to the semifinals.
The game will be at Gimnasio Juan de la Barrera, in Mexico City at 9:30 pm. The game will be on Facebook.