USA U17 Women Advance to Semifinals

The 2010 USA Women's U17 World Championship Team (6-0) compiled a game-changing 23-4 run over the end of the first quarter and into the second period that led to a 20-point halftime lead and an eventual 86-57 victory over Spain (2-4) in the quarterfinals of the 2010 FIBA U17 World Championship on July 23 in Toulouse, France.

With the win, the USA advances to the medal semifinals on July 24, where it will face China (5-1), which earlier beat Russia (2-4) 68-59.

The USA had previously played Spain on July 11, with the USA recording a 61-50 victory in exhibition play in Alagon, Spain.

"We played Spain two weeks ago, and we struggled with their pressure defense," said Barbara Nelson, USA U17 and Wingate University head coach. "They took the ball from us a lot, and we really struggled defending their shooters. They got open anytime they wanted to. So, our focus for this game was really to defend their 3-point shooters as well as we possibly could and take care of the basketball so that we didn't have as many turnovers against their pressure.

"We are excited to be advancing to the next round, and I believe we play China, so we are excited to get to work against China," Nelson continued.

Led by 16 points, including 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point, by Kaleena Lewis (Mater Dei H.S./Anaheim, Calif), the USA featured four players in double figures, and all 12 U.S. players scored and grabbed at least one rebound.

Elizabeth Williams (Princess Anne H.S./Virginia Beach, Va.) tallied 11 points and four blocks, and Cierra Burdick (Butler H.S./Matthews, N.C.) and Jewell Loyd (Lincolnwood, Ill.) contributed 10 points each.

"I think our bench play was really important tonight," Nelson said. "Jewell came in and knocked down a bunch of shots and picked up the tempo."

Spain, which entered the game leading the tournament in 3-point percentage (42.5 percent, 48-of-113 3-point FGs), took the lead 7-4 on a 3-pointer at 7:21 in the first quarter. The lead changed hands twice more before Loyd stole the ball and found Lewis for an old-fashioned three-point play at 3:14 that gave the USA a 16-15 advantage.

The score was 18-16 with the USA ahead at the 1:37 mark, however, when the game broke open for the red, white and blue. Loyd sank a 3-pointer that ignited a 23-4 U.S run that included seven points from Loyd, six from Lewis and six U.S. scorers overall, and by the 4:22 mark of the second period, the USA had compiled a 21-point lead, 41-20, from which Spain never recovered.

Spain never got any closer than 17 points for the remainder of the contest, and the U.S. lead stretched to as many as 33 points several times in the fourth period.

"We came ready for this game," Loyd said. "We knew what we had to do, and we were all focused. We knew our assignments, and we just brought it. It was game time for us."

Spain tried full-court pressure as well as several zone defenses to try to disrupt the U.S. offense, but the Americans pushed the tempo to race to 25 assists, 54 points in the paint to Spain's 18 and 18 fast-break points compared to Spain's six.

The USA also recorded nine blocked shots, 17 steals and shot an impressive 60.3 percent from the field (35-of-58 FGs).

Jordan Adams (Mater Dei H.S./Irvine, Calif.) dished out a game-high five assists, while Burdick and Bashaara Graves (Clarksville H.S./Clarksville, Tenn.) each collected five rebounds.

"I think we got a lot of rebounds, we caused them to have a lot of turnovers and we picked up our pace," Adams said. "We knew Spain was good. When we played them back in Spain, we didn't play our best. We got better, and we knew we had to expect that they got better as well. They came out and came at us with everything they had, and we responded really well, especially in the second quarter."

Spain was led by 15 points from Maria Gonzalez.

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