The U16 National Team put together a dominating defensive performance, holding Costa Rica scoreless for an eleven minute stretch, en route to a 106-19 victory during the final round of pool play in the FIBA Americas Championship in Cancun, Mexico. With the win the USA secured its berth into the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship.
After taking a brief 4-2 lead at the 8:42 mark in the first quarter Costa Rica did not score again until the 7:47 mark of the second quarter and found themselves trailing 41-6 to the North Americans.
Using aggressive trapping and pressure defense, Team USA snagged 15 steals which led to 28 points off of turnovers. The USA also maintained control of the boards out rebounding Costa Rica 57-23 for 34 second chance points.
"The game plan was to work on our execution on both sides of the ball," said head coach Sue Phillips. "We worked on various defenses and offensively, we looked for an inside-out approach, pounding the ball inside and taking care of the basketball, and we did that well.
Katie Lou Samuelson led seven USA players in double figures with 20 points, connecting on 8-of-12 attempts from the field and 4-of-6 from behind the arc for blistering 67 percent shooting average for the game. Nancy Mulkey posted 16 points, followed by Lauren Cox with 14 points and seven rebounds, Arike Ogunbowale scored 13, Asia Durr and Kalani Brown both added 12 and DeJanae Boykin added 10.
"We played well. We've improved a lot on our team chemistry and working on offenses," said Mulkey, who shot 58 percent from the field. "We were just focusing on what we needed to improve on. The scoreboard didn't matter to us. We wanted to work on what we needed to work on, and we did that."
As the No. 1 seed out of Group A, the USA will face the No. 2 seed out of Group B in the semifinals on June 22, which will be the loser of Friday's 8 p.m. (CDT) battle between Canada (2-0) and host Mexico (2-0).
The medal semifinal winners will meet in the gold medal game at 6 p.m. (CDT) on June 23, while the losers will play for bronze at 3 p.m. (CDT). All games are being streamed live online at FIBAAmericas.com.
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