Aug. 9, 2006

Mexico City Despite a first-quarter fight from Puerto Rico (0-1), the USA U20 National Team (1-0) easily recorded a 97-57 win in the 2006 FIBA Americas U20 Championship for Women opener Tuesday in Mexico City, Mexico.

Led by Courtney Paris’ (Oklahoma / Piedmont, Calif.) 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting, the USA shot 58.7 percent from the field and finished with six players in double digits, including 16 points and three 3-pointers from Jolene Anderson (Wisconsin / Port Wing, Wis.). DeWanna Bonner (Auburn / Fairfield, Ala.) contributed 13 points, Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton (Purdue / Naperville, Ill.) added 12 and Erlana Larkins (North Carolina / Riviera Beach, Fla.) and Victoria Lucas-Perry (Michigan State / Flint, Mich.) tallied 11 points each.

“There was pretty outstanding chemistry given the fact that we really hadn’t played a game together,” said Joanne P. McCallie, Michigan State and USA U20 National Team head coach. ” Really just a strong performance by everybody, and I thought our second-half defense was much more suffocating. Puerto Rico came out and did well initially, but we held them late.”

Puerto Rico was led by 16 points from Pamela Rosado and nine from Zulmarie Sanchez.

The USA opened the contest with a 3-pointer from Anderson just 46 seconds into the game and despite outscoring Puerto Rico by just 7 points in the first and second quarters, never trailed. The USA put the game entirely out of reach with a 12-0 run that included four points from Lucas- Perry and stretched a 15-point lead to 76-49 with 9:41 remaining in the fourth-quarter.

“It was a balanced effort, and Erica White (Louisiana State / Jacksonville, Fla.) applied excellent defensive pressure,” McCallie said. “Everybody was solid. Courtney Paris was solid, Erlana played hard and Jolene hit some big shots to start us off. Everybody kind of did their thing. It was a great growing game for us. We definitely can play a lot better, but it was an excellent first game.”

McCallie is assisted by the University of California’s Joanne Boyle and Furman University’s (S.C.) Sam Dixon.

The USA also dominated defensively and out rebounded Puerto Rico 31-7, with Paris grabbing 7 rebounds to lead both teams.

“It happens a lot with USA Basketball that you have this confidence about you, but you have to remember that every team is going to come out and give you their best shot,” Paris said. “That’s what Puerto Rico did, and I’m proud of the way we adjusted.

A minor shoulder injury prevented Kia Vaughn (Rutgers / Bronx, N.Y.) from participating and left Bonner, a 6-4 guard, to play as a forward. Bonner responded with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Devanei Hampton (California / Oakland, Calif.) is unable to participate in the tournament due to a knee injury.

“DeWanna Bonner also was key because she was forced to play the four for us given our injury situation,” McCallie said. “I thought she was tremendous.”

Bonner said her adjustment was made easier by the height advantage the USA had over Puerto Rico.

“Since I’ve been with the USA team, I haven’t played any post,” Bonner said. “That was my first time, so I was pretty confused. I didn’t struggle too much though because we had a height advantage, so if you threw it in there, we were gonna get it.”

The FIBA Americas U20 Championship for Women tournament recently was changed to a round-robin format after Costa Rica and Jamaica withdrew from the contest. The USA faces Canada Wednesday at 2:00 p.m.(CDT), followed by Bahamas versus Brazil at 4:00 p.m. and Mexico against Puerto Rico at 6:00 p.m.

“Now that the first game is down, we need to prepare for the next one,” Paris said. “We need to come out and win all five games.”

In Tuesday’s other action, 18 points from Jaqueline De Paula helped Brazil top Canada 72-59, and host Mexico led Bahamas 29-17 at halftime.