TOULOUSE (FIBA U17 World Championship for Women) – The United States of America beat hosts France to win the FIBA U17 World Championship for Women and China outlasted Belgium in the bronze medal game.
With the win, the USA completed a clean sweep of the inaugural FIBA U17 World Championships following the men's team success in Hamburg two weeks ago.
The USA take home the gold medal after seeing off France 92-62 in front of a huge crowd of about 2,500 at the Palais des Sports in Toulouse.
Elizabeth Williams scored three times in the paint to put the USA up 11-5 less than four minutes into the game. Sara Chevaugeon scored five quick points but those were countered by six from Kaleena Lewis and Ariel Massenger.
Local hero Lola De Angelis and Olivia Epoupa buried long bombs to help France cut the deficit and they were down by 10, 26-16, at the end of the first quarter.
Arnaud Guppillotte’s girls, who had kept pace with the USA in the first half of their game in Group A of the Preliminary Round nine days ago, went on an impressive 15-4 run early in the second period to edge in front 31-30.
However, that was short lived as Williams and Lewis spurred the Americans on and they accounted for 19 of the last 27 points of the first half to lead 50-38 at intermission.
Barbara Nelson’s charges extended their lead in the third period. Laure Mercier lifted France’s fortunes with two 3 pointers but France still trailed 75-54 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Americans height advantage, better finishing and deep bench were decisive in the final period and they deservedly came out on top.
Bronze medal game
China beat Belgium 85-73 to take the bronze medal.
Playing in front of 1,750 people, the Chinese got the better of the team that previously beat them in Group B of the Preliminary Round.
Early on, China’s Liwei Yang and Meng Li looked to be involved in a three-point shooting contest with Belgium’s Lien Delmulle and Hanne Mestdagh with all four players recording one make.
China led 26-25 at the end of the first quarter. Belgium captain Julie Vanloo and Emma Meesseman helped their side get back in front and open a seven-point lead in the second period. Wang Guizhi’s girls cut the deficit to five, 46-41, at the break.
In the third quarter, Vanloo and her team stretched their lead to double-digits and at one point led by as many as 12.
However, China came back once again thanks to the scoring punch of Dong Yu and Mengxin Sun and had the game knotted at 62 going into the final frame.
China had the momentum firmly in their corner and went on a 12-2 run to go up 73-64. They were then helped by the fact that Daniel Goethals’s key players, Meesseman and Vanloo, fouled out within a minute of each other.
Despite the best attempts of Ann Schyvens and Harriet Nawezhi to spearhead one final Belgian run, Mengxin Sun and Liwei Yang hi timely three-pointers to seal the deal for China.
Yu finished had game-highs of 29 points and 13 rebounds in the winning cause.
Vanloo had a team-best 23 points for Belgium.
5-8 place games
Japan edged out Russia 74-68 in the fifth place game.
As well as ensuring a top-five finish, the result allowed Shinichiro Hayashi’s charges to avenge their defeat at the hands of the Russians in Group A of the Preliminary Round in Rodez.
The Japanese stifled Russia star Ksenia Tikhonenko. However, keeping her in check proved a costly strategy as it opened things up for Galina Kisevela and Mariya Davydova who combined for 12 first quarter points to put Russia up 22-12.
Anna Arkhipova-von Kalmanovich’s girls then spread the scoring load in the second period to pull away for a 41-26 advantage.
The duo of Yuki Miyazawa and Moeko Nagaoka took over after the break, accounting for all but two of Japan’s points in the third period as they outscored the Russians 22-10 to get within 51-48.
Japan carried that momentum into the final quarter to lead 57-51 before Russia awoke from their slumber to tie the score at 61 with four minutes to go.
The Japanese had one last run in them and used it to close out the game.
Earlier, Australia cruised past Spain 74-48 in the seventh place game.
The game got off to a slow start with fatigue a factor for both teams after 10 days of intense competition. That was apparent in a low-scoring first quarter, which finished with Spain leading 12-8.
Things improved in the second period with Andrea Vilaro and Yurena Diaz spurring last year’s U16 European Champions on before Gretel Tippett and Tayla Roberts helped Australia take the ascendancy for a 30-24 halftime advantage.
Roberts – who finished with 25 points and 14 rebounds – spearheaded a 16-0 run in the third quarter that saw Peter Lonergan’s side take a commanding 46-24 lead. Spain were outscored 20-5 in the period and trailed 50-29 heading into the final frame.
Victor Lapena’s side rediscovered some scoring punch in the final quarter, but by then it was too late.