BANGKOK, THAILAND | The USA U19 World Cup team played just one really close game during its time at the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup tournament and it turned out to be one that produced the biggest award.
The Americans needed overtime to collect its gold medal with a 74-70 victory over Australia to cap a tournament in which they won their previous six games by an average of more than 22 points per contest.
Regis Jesuit graduate Fran Belibi played a big part in crunch time in the USA victory. She had just three points in the game, but two came on a putback with just over 25 seconds remaining in overtime to boost the Americans’ lead to four points and her defensive rebound in the closing seconds sealed the victory.
Paige Bueckers — later named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player — finished with a team-high 17 points for USA, while Hailey Van Lith added 16, Aliyah Boston 12 and Rhyne Howard 10. Howard joined Bueckers on the all-tournament team.
Belibi, a Stanford University signee, collected her third international gold medal playing with USA Basketball.
Playing in a reserve role for all seven games, Belibi finished second on the team with an average of 7.29 rebounds per contest (behind only Naz Hillmon-Baker at 7.57), while she also chipped in an average of eight points per game. With three steals in the gold medal game, Belibi tied with Celeste Taylor for most total steals with 14 in seven games.
Belibi’s best individual statistical effort came in a 95-50 win over Hungary in which she recorded 11 points and a team-high 13 rebounds.
The USA added a seventh gold medal in eight trips to the U19 FIBA World Cup tournament, which originally began as the FIBA Junior World Championship.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2019 FIBA U19 WOMEN’S WORLD CUP GOLD MEDAL GAME
USA 74, Australia 70
Score by periods:
USA 22 17 14 13 8 — 74
Australia 23 17 13 13 4 — 70
USA points: Paige Bueckers 17, Hailey Van Lith 16, Aliyah Boston 12, Rhyne Howard 10, Naz Hillmon-Baker 6, Celeste Taylor 5, FRAN BELIBI 3, Caitlin Clark 3, Queen Egbo 2
Australia points: Jazmin Shelley 18, Isobel Antsey 16, Agnes Emma-Nnopu 9, Alexandra Fowler 8, Shyla Heal 6, Miela Goodchild 4, Gemma Potter 3, Isabelle Bourne 2