If Team USA's 19-and-Under squad had its troubles early in the tournament -- squeaking past China, 80-77, and falling to Canada, 52-64, in the preliminary rounds -- they left no doubters of their dominance when they strode to the podium for the medal ceremonies of the 2011 FIBA U19 Women's World Championships in Puerto Montt, Chile on Sunday night. The American women took the gold for the fifth time in six junior World Championship outings, and they did it in style, with a 69-46, gold medal game shellacking of Spain, on the heels of an 82-66 victory over Brazil in the semis.
In both games, the Americans came out strong from the start, and though Brazil managed to close within five during the third quarter of the semifinal, in both games, the U.S. quickly closed the door on their opponents to seal the victories.
Two Americans -- Tennessee-bound Ariel Massengale (Bolingbrook High School, Bolingbrook, Illinois) and Connecticut-commit Breanna Stewart (Cicero-North Syracuse High School, North Syracuse, New York Class of 2012) -- were named to the All-Tournament team. Though held to just three points in Sunday's final, Stewart averaged 11.2 points and 7.3 rebounds per game -- both team highs for the Americans -- in just 19.9 minutes per game, roughly one-third less time on the floor than most of the other players on the tournament's leaderboard. Meanwhile, Massengale was one of the tournament's assist leaders, averaging 4.3 dishes (to 2.4 turnovers) per game and serving up nine each in the U.S. wins over Italy and Brazil and seven in the championship victory over Spain. Massengale also contributed 7.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per outing.
The pair were joined by tournament MVP Damaris Dantas of Brazil, who averaged 20.9 points and 12.6 rebounds per game (both tournament highs), and posted 26 points and 13 boards to lead her team to a 70-67 win over Australia in the bronze medal game.