Getting the Gold
The old adage “defense wins championships” was again proven true by the American women in the FIBA U17 World Cup gold medal game as they beat France 92-40 in Minsk, Belarus on July 29.
“It’s been an amazing ride,” said USA U17 and Tufts University women’s basketball head coach Carla Berube, who is 12-0 as a USA junior team head coach. “From the team being named in May after trials, they went home for a month and then when they came back in early July, they were ready to go, in shape and excited. It’s been an awesome experience, and I’m so happy to have been able to coach these twelve players.”
Since the International Basketball Association, known as FIBA from its French acronym, initiated the U17 competition in 2010, the U.S. women have captured the gold medal in four of the five U17 World Cups and have compiled a 36-1 overall record.
For her play throughout the tournament, Jordan Horston earned MVP honors and was joined on the FIBA U17 World Cup All-Star Five Team by teammates Aliyah Boston and Aliyah Boston, along with Australia’s Shyla Heal and Iliana Rupert of France.
“It’s just amazing,” said Horston. “All this hard work that we put in from the beginning of the month, it finally paid off. To know I got it done with these ladies, it’s just so great.”
France scored first to take its only lead of the game and the U.S. responded with 16 straight points to grab control 16-2. Leading 23-12 after the first quarter, the Americans opened the second stanza with a 14-3 scoring run to up its advantage to 37-15. At halftime, with the U.S. shooting 48.7 percent and holding France to 35.5 percent shooting from the floor, the U.S. lead stood at 46-28.
“We did a great job in the first half,” said Berube. “France was able to make some really tough shots. And then, in the second half, we just clamped down. I think Aliyah Boston did a really great job on Rupert, who is a really great player. We helped her out and got out on shooters, then we got out on the break and made plays. We really shared the ball the way we've been sharing it all tournament.”
The U.S. team shut down France's top scorer heading into the game. Rupert, who averaged 12.2 points entering the gold medal game, was held scoreless on 0-for-10 shooting on the night.
“It meant so much,” Jones said of winning the gold. “We’ve been together for the last month and we’ve become a family, so it means so much to us. The coaches have put in so much time, everybody that has been with us this whole time. It was a moment of being grateful for everything and knowing all your hard work paid off.”
The U.S. team shot 51.5 percent from the field, while France was limited to 24.6 percent. The U.S. women also owned a 60-37 advantage on the glass and committed just 12 turnovers.