Photo Credit: USA Basketball
LANZAROTE, Canary Islands - Behind an intense pressure defense, the 2013 USA U19 Women's U19 World Championship Team (3-0) sprinted to a 28-7 lead en route to a 69-49 defeat of Canada (1-2) to capture the 2013 Lanzarote International Invitational championship on Sunday morning at the Teguise Arena in Lanzarote, Canary Islands. Australia (2-1) defeated host Spain (0-3) 75-58 and finished second in the round-robin tournament as Canada nabbed third place.
Breanna Stewart (Connecticut / North Syracuse, N.Y.) led the way with 11 points, while Morgan Tuck (Connecticut / Bolingbrook, Ill.) scored 10 and Brianna Turner (Manvel H.S. / Pearland, Texas) also had 10 points to go with seven rebounds.
“The start of the game, our first quarter was just phenomenal, especially after that short (13-hour) turnaround," said USA U19 and University of Miami head coach Katie Meier. "It really showed maturity in our starters. But, our pressure wasn't consistent throughout the game. It came and went. We kind of pressured in spurts. We weren't as sharp mentally as we needed to be, but I was really happy to see the veterans set the tone early in this game."
Striking first and jumping out to a 9-2 lead, the U.S. never trailed and with the score showing 11-6, the red, white and blue went on a game-deciding run. Feeding off of its pressure defense, the USA capped the first quarter by scoring nine unanswered points in a 17-2 run that bridged the quarter gap and with 6:47 to play before half, the game was well in hand, 28-7. Utilizing a variety of scoring options that saw Stewart score five of her nine first half points in the run, the U.S. got points from six different players during that time.
"We want to come out with a strong intensity and just play well," said Stewart. "Having a veteran lineup, coming out and playing strong like that, it really makes it easier for the second lineup to come in and play just like that. I think we, the first lineup, gets up into them and tries to start the game off strong, but then they come in and they're just as strong. It just helps pull out the win."
Canada, however, would not back down and outscored the U.S. 15-8 over the remainder of the second quarter and at halftime the USA's advantage was 14 points, 36-22, with 10 of the 11 healthy players contributing to the scoring column.
"It's really hard to ever think you can put a team away, especially a team of this caliber," added Meier. "Canada played with a lot of pride, responded and made some adjustments. We sort of lost our focus, so it was kind of a combination of things."
The USA's lead was cut to 12, 41-29, in the second half's first 1:23, however, a 9-0 spurt distanced the red, white and blue from their neighbors to the north to a tune of 50-29. Canada scored the period's final four points to bring the third quarter to a 50-33 close.
The fourth quarter saw the U.S. outscore Canada 19-16 for the final.
“Our defense is definitely a strength and when we play teams with our pressure defense, it's really hard for other teams to score on us," said Nia Coffey (Hopkins H.S. / Minneapolis, Minn.), who contributed four points in the win. "I think we did a really good job of playing together."