The USA Women’s 3x3 U18 World Cup National Team (7-0) proved it was again the world’s best 3X3 U18 team after upending New Zealand (5-2) 19-13 in the gold medal game Friday at the FIBA 3X3 U18 World Cup in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. USA 3X3 U18 World Cup teams have now claimed the gold medal in six of the last eight FIBA Women’s 3X3 U18 and Youth Olympic Games competitions.
The golden showing by the USA women was also achieved by the USA men, marking the first time the same nation had swept the men’s and women’s World Cup titles in the same year. France defeated China 15-13 to capture the bronze medal game.
Members of the gold medalist USA women’s 3x3 U18 World Cup Team features Olivia Cochran (Carver H.S./Columbus, Ga.), Madison Hayes (East Hamilton H.S./Ooltewah, Tenn.), Rickea Jackson (Detroit Edison Public Academy/Detroit, Mich.), and Hailey Van Lith (Cashmere H.S./Cashmere, Wash.). USA Olympic gold medalist Kara Lawson served as the team advisor.
Van Lith was selected MVP of their FIBA Women’s 3X3 U18 World Cup. Joining her on the three-woman All-World Cup Team was Jackson and New Zealand’s Charlisse Trinity Leger-Walker.
The women’s gold medal contest was a rematch of the June 4 preliminary game in which the USA defeated New Zealand 20-11, and again, the American women proved too much for New Zealand.
New Zealand scored first, but that lead was short lived as the USA reeled off five straight points to jump ahead 5-1. Holding onto a 7-4 advantage, the U.S. increased its lead to 11-4 after a Cochran free throw, and although New Zealand staged a rally and closed to within 13-10, Van Lith scored four of the USA’s final six point as the USA staked claim on the gold medal with a 19-13 victory.
“There’s no words for winning the gold medal for your country,” said Van Lith. “Me and my teammates worked so hard for this and we just did it for the people back home and for our coach Kara (Lawson) who we’re blessed to have. We couldn’t be more thankful.”
Van Lith headed the offensive effort with seven points, while Cochran added six points, Hayes tossed in five points and Jackson added one point.
The USA won it’s semifinal contest against France 21-11. Either the United States or France had won the previous seven 3X3 U18 World Cups or Youth Olympic Games (which is a U18 3X3 competition), so the semifinal clash was a meeting of established powers. Getting seven points from Van Lith, while Cochran and Hayes each added five points and Jackson tallied four points, the USA took control early and marched to a 21-11 victory.
Getting three points from Jackson and one point from Cochran and Hayes, the USA led 5-2. France hit a 2-pointer to pull within one, 5-4, but Van Lith took over and scored three of the USA’s next four points to push the U.S. ahead 9-4 with 6:08 remaining. The USA defense continue to stymie France and the Americans went on an 8-0 scoring run to take full control 17-5. Jackson scored a drive with 2.7 seconds left to earn the USA the 21-11 win.
“It’s so surreal, there’s nothing like the feeling of being able to play for a gold medal for your country,” said Van Lith. “Me and my teammates know that and how much it means and we just want to put it on for our family and people back home.
The USA’s opening game of the day, a quarterfinals game against Indonesia (3-2), proved to be a struggle for the U.S. Finding points hard to come by, the USA trailed 7-6 with 5:11 to play when the offense finally came to life. Jackson scored back-to-back baskets to put the USA ahead 8-7, and the lead was pushed to 11-7 after Jackson connected on a jumper with 2:28 left. Leading 11-8, the USA closed strong and scored five straight points to claim the 16-10 win. Jackson finished the game with six points to pace the USA scoring, Cochran added five points and Van Lith contributed four points.
The FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup has been held on an annual basis since 2011, except the years of the Summer Youth Olympic Games (2010, 2014, 2018). Twenty men’s and 20 women’s teams are competed in the 2019 event.
The USA women’s 3x3 U18 teams, including the U18 squads in the Youth Olympic Games, have compiled a 71-8 overall record and captured gold at the 2014 and 2018 Youth Olympics and the 2012, 2013 and 2017 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cups; silver at the 2015 and 2016 3x3 U18s; and a pair of bronze medals at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games and 2011 3x3 U18 Worlds.
With the inclusion of 3X3 in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, fans will see the launch of a new basketball discipline in Olympic competition. The exciting and fast-paced game officially was unveiled at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games. Played on a half court with a 10-minute clock, and a 12-second shot clock, the first team to 21 points, or the team in the lead at the end of regulation, is the winner.