Aug. 13, 2006
MEXICO CITY, Mexico - With an impressive 96-54 win, the USA U20 women's national team stormed past previously undefeated Brazil (4-1) to capture gold at the 2006 FIBA Americas U20 Championship for Women Saturday in Mexico City, Mexico.
"We were a little unsettled in the first quarter, but overall it was a tremendous effort," said Michigan State and USA U20 National Team head coach Joanne P. McCallie. "Holding Brazil to 56 points was the ultimate goal of the team, and we accomplished that.
"This team has worked very, very hard, and they have wanted to be very good. I would say they have played hard every minute of this tournament. I don't think they ever took a minute off."
McCallie was assisted by California head coach Joanne Boyle and Sam Dixon of Furman University.
Along with the USA, Brazil, silver finishers, and Canada (3-2), bronze medalists, also qualified for the 2007 FIBA U21 World Championship July 27-Aug. 5 in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
The game presented the first real test for the Americans, though the battle lasted less than the first 10 minutes. Capitalizing on two USA turnovers, Brazil jumped to a 13-8 lead to start the much-anticipated contest, but a 3-pointer from DeWanna Bonner (Auburn / Fairfield, Ala.) with 1:51 on the clock gave the USA a 17-16 lead that the Americans never relinquished.
Just two minutes into the second quarter, a bucket from Kia Vaughn (Rutgers / Bronx, N.Y.) launched a 13-0 that killed Brazil's gold-medal hopes and set the USA machine in motion.
"The first half was still a pretty close game, and we were excited to finally be playing some better competition," said high-scorer Jolene Anderson (Wisconsin / Port Wing, Wis.), whose 5-of-8 3-point shooting helped her tally 17 points. "In the second half, we just remembered what we were playing for and what was at stake."
DeWanna Bonner, earning her first USA Basketball gold medal, added 14 points, as did Courtney Paris (Oklahoma / Piedmont, Calif.), who collected her fifth USA Basketball gold medal. Paris also grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds, including 8 offensive boards.
Remaining balanced offensively, as the team has been through all five game, Marscilla Packer (Ohio State / Pickerington, Ohio) posted 12 points, and Renee Montgomery (Connecticut / St. Albans, W.Va.) and Vaughn tallied 10 each.
"The feeling is amazing," Montgomery said. "It is way better than you could imagine because it's a gold medal. It's something different, and it's an experience I'll never forget."
Brazil was lead by 18 points from Jaqueline De Paula and 11 from Franciele Nacimiento.
Erica White (Louisiana State / Jacksonville, Fla.), co-captain along with Erlana Larkins (North Carolina / Riviera Beach, Fla.), said the role helped her grow as a person.
"I like to think I did the best job I could," White said. "The attitude of the team was pretty positive and I think that somewhat reflects the leadership."
The USA was down to just 10 active players Saturday. Essence Carson (Rutgers / Paterson, N.J.) was added to the inactive list after Friday's game with a minor knee sprain, and Cal's Devanei Hampton (Oakland, Calif.), also with a knee injury, was never able to participate in the tournament.
"We have had some tough situations to deal with here in Mexico City, and we have had to deal with different things," McCallie said. "I love how this team dealt with adversity. I'm very proud of them. The players get the gold medals, and the coaches get the intrinsic reward of knowing that we played through many circumstances including injuries."
In Saturday's other action, Puerto Rico (2-3) finished in fourth place with a 91-56 win over the last place Bahamas (0-5) and Canada (3-2) finishing third, captured bronze and qualified for the 2007 FIBA U21 World Championships, beating Mexico (1-4) 68-41.