Valerie Higgins Helps USA U18 Squad to Gold at FIBA Americas Championship

    July 18, 2016

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    VALDIVIA, Chile -- USC women's basketball incoming freshman Valerie Higgins helped the USA Women's U18 National Team claim the gold medal at the 2016 FIBA Americas U18 Championship on Sunday, July 17.

    Outscoring Canada, 33-14, in the third quarter, the U.S. took control and finished off a 109-62 victory en route to a perfect 5-0 mark in the tourney. Higgins had six points on 2-for-5 shooting, three rebounds, and a game-high five steals in 19 minutes on the floor.

    USA forward Lauren Cox had 15 points against Canada, and was named tournament MVP. The gold medal was the USA U18 women's eighth straight and ninth overall at the event. The U.S. women are now 53-2 all-time in FIBA Americas U18 Championship play.

    In the bronze medal game, Brazil (3-2) topped Puerto Rico (2-3) 74-60. The top four teams, including the USA, Brazil, Canada, and Puerto Rico, earned berths into the 2017 FIBA U17 World Championship (site and dates to be determined).

    The USA had six players in double-digit scoring and committed just three turnovers while forcing Canada into 24 turnovers. The U.S. women put the first points on the board, but the score was tied eight times in the first period as the teams traded baskets. The U.S. opened the second quarter on an 8-0 run to lead, 31-20, before Canada ended the spurt. The USA scored five more unanswered points to lead, 36-22, at 6:09, and then outscored Canada 15-10 over the remainder of the quarter to take a 51-34 halftime lead.

    At the midway point, the USA had just two turnovers while forcing Canada into 12 turnovers, which helped it tally 12 fast-break points to Canada's zero points in transition.

    The USA blew the game open in the third quarter, putting together two 5-0 runs followed by two 6-0 runs to pull away from Canada. While the U.S. offense put up 33 points overall, its defense allowed Canada just 14 points to lead 84-48 headed into the final 10 minutes.

    The USA continued to improve upon its lead in the fourth quarter and tallied 25 to Canada's 14 to record the 109-62 win.

    As a team, the USA set women's U18 competition records for most field goals attempted (403), most three-pointers attempted (87) and most rebounds (296).

    It was Higgins' first-ever call-up to a USA Basketball event. She was one of 12 players selected for the USA roster out of 30 participants at the trials in Colorado Springs, Colo., at the end of May.

    A native of Granada Hills, Calif., Higgins is a product out of Chaminade College Prep. The 6-0 guard is one of just two players to make debuts on a USA Basketball national team roster. A member of the Naismith Watch List, Higgins will enter USC as a decorated prep athlete. She recently picked up honors with selection to the Jordan Brand Classic All-American West Team, going along with her award as the SoCal Player of the Year and a spot on the All-CIF First Team. Earlier this spring, Higgins was named the Los Angeles Times' girls' basketball player of the year.