Aug. 18, 2006
Colorado Springs, Colo. – Led by USA and Michigan State University head coach Joanne P. McCallie, the USA Basketball U20 Women’s National Team (5-0) demolished its 2006 FIBA Americas Championship competition, scoring an average of 104.2 points per game while holding opponents to just 42.2 points to easily capture the gold medal on Aug. 12 in Mexico City, Mexico.
The USA, silver-medal finisher Brazil (4-1) and bronze medalist Canada (3-2) each qualified for the 2007 FIBA U21 World Championship that will be held July 27-Aug. 5 in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
“What a great group of motivated women this team was,” McCallie said following the team’s final game. “They cared about the extra pass more than who scored what. 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.”
In just the second tournament in event history, the 2006 USA squad maintained a perfect 9-0 overall record and literally rewrote the USA U20 record books with 28 new single-game and competition entries, including 20 team records, eight individual marks and three individuals who tied previous highs.
“I think out of all the experiences I’ve had with USA Basketball, this was one of the neatest,” Courtney Paris (Oklahoma / Piedmont, Calif.) said. “Usually you come in and beat everybody by a lot, and that’s it. But I loved how our coaches made our goal different and made us really come together as a team. Focusing on getting better was our big theme.”
With five games in five days, the USA first met Puerto Rico on Aug. 8th. Establishing a balanced attack from the start, six Americans reached double figures as the USA coasted to a 97-57 victory. Paris led the squad with 18 points and seven rebounds, Jolene Anderson (Wisconsin / Port Wing, Wis.) added 16, DeWanna Bonner (Auburn / Fairfield, Ala.) contributed 13, Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton (Purdue / Naperville, Ill.) tallied 12 and Erlana Larkins (North Carolina / Riviera Beach, Fla.) and Victoria Lucas-Perry (Michigan State / Flint, Mich.) each scored 11 points. Day two, Aug. 9, brought Canada. The Americans upped their already hot field goal percentage to 54.5 percent (36-66 FGs) and dominated Canada 90-39. Marscilla Packer (Ohio State / Pickerington, Ohio) led the way with 18 points after shooting 6-of-8 from the field against the Canucks. The USA, forcing 24 turnovers and collecting 17 steals, was also helped by 11 points from Paris and 10 from Anderson.
Led by 20 points from Packer, who set a USA U20 single-game scoring record after sinking six 3-pointers, the USA handled host Mexico 124-38 on Aug. 10 to also set a single-game scoring high. Essence Carson (Rutgers / Paterson, N.J.) tallied 18 points, Paris contributed 16, Anderson scored 15 and Kia Vaughn (Rutgers / Bronx, N.Y.) contributed 14 points as the USA shot a scorching 63.2 percent (43-68 FGs) and forced 31 turnovers.
Meeting a winless Bahamas, McCallie and her assistants, the University of California’s Joanne Boyle and Furman University’s (S.C.) Sam Dixon, shifted the team’s focus to defense, and the USA squad gave up only 23 points while scoring 114 in a game that was never in question. The USA hit a record-setting 69.7 percent (46-66 FGs) of its shots from the field with seven players in double figures. Vaughn led the way with 15 points, Renee Montgomery (Connecticut / St. Albans, W.Va.) tallied 13, Paris, Lucas-Perry and Anderson each scored 12 and Larkins added 10 points.
In its final and most anticipated contest, the USA met also undefeated Brazil on Aug. 12 to determine the gold medal winner. Captained by Larkins and Erica White (Louisiana State / Jacksonville, Fla.) the U.S. squad was down to just 10 active members in the final game after Carson suffered a minor knee sprain versus Bahamas. Devanei Hampton (California / Oakland, Calif.), also due to a knee injury, was never able to participate in the tournament.
After a first-quarter fight that resulted in just a 21-20 U.S. lead, a bucket from Vaughn two minutes into the second period launched a 13-0 run that killed Brazil’s gold-medal hopes and set the USA machine in motion. With a final score of 96-54, the USA featured six players in double figures and outrebounded Brazil 54-26. Anderson tallied 17 points, Bonner and Paris each added 14, Packer contributed 12 and Montgomery and Vaughn both scored 10 points.
Paris was the tournament’s second leading scoring and top rebounder averaging 14.2 points and 8.0 rebounds per game for the Americans. Anderson ranked third overall in scoring (14.0 ppg.), and Packer tied for fourth (13.6 ppg.). Additionally, Vaughn ranked seventh (11.8 ppg.) and Carson ranked ninth (10.5 ppg.).
Paris (71), Anderson (70) and Packer (68) now list No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 in the USA U20 competition record books for most points scored.
As a team, the 20 new competition records are highlighted by new marks for points scored (521), points averaged (104.2 ppg.), field goal percentage (.555) and 3-point percentage (.457). The team’s single-game records include points scored (124 vs. Mexico), field goal percentage (.697 vs. Bahamas), 3-pointers made (12 vs. Mexico), 3-point field goal percentage (.600 vs. Bahamas) and steals (17 vs. Canada).
As individuals, the eight new records in competition categories included Paris with 40 rebounds and Packer with a 69.0 3-point field goal percentage. In single-game categories, Packer also set new highs for points (20 vs. Mexico) and 3-point shooting percentage (4-of-4 vs. Mexico), and Vaughn’s four blocks against the Bahamas also set a new high.
The USA U20 team was comprised of four USA veterans with FIBA experience and eight athletes who experienced their first international USA Basketball competition. Anderson, Carson, Larkins and Paris won gold medals at the 2005 FIBA U19 World Championship; and Carson, Larkins and Paris also helped the 2004 USA U18 squad to the gold at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship.
“Compared to the other USA Basketball gold medals I’ve won, this one was with a really new team.” Larkins said. “After training in California and coming to Mexico, I think we all really came together. Winning the medal with a new group like this kind of makes the experience new again. It is a lot of fun and it feels really good to know we accomplished what we came here to do.”
Prior to the 2007 FIBA U21 World Championships, USA Basketball will again hold U21 National Team Trials to select the final 12-member roster for the July 27-Aug.5 tournament in Guatemala City, Guatemala.