The USA, which wrapped up pool play as Group A's No. 4 seed, will take on Jamaica (0-3) in the seventh place game at 10:30 a.m. (times listed are Central Daylight Time, which is -1 hour from Eastern Daylight Time) on Oct. 24.
"I think our team knew that we could play better than we had been, and they went after it aggressively on the offensive end," said USA head coach Ceal Barry. "We got a lot of production from different players tonight. Kevi Luper shot the ball well, April Sykes came off of the bench and shot the ball well and, in particular, Christine Flores, really opened up the game to start the second half. That got the team excited, and they stopped thinking and started playing basketball."
For a third straight game, the USA was led by high schooler Breanna Stewart (Cicero-North Syracuse H.S./North Syracuse, N.Y.), who finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists while shooting 5-of-5 from the free throw line. Also tallying double-digit scoring were Christine Flores (Missouri/San Antonio, Texas) and April Sykes (Rutgers/Starkville, Miss.) with 12 points apiece and Emilie Johnson (UC Santa Barbara/Loomis, Calif.) with 10 points, five rebounds and three assists. Katelan Redmon (Gonzaga/Spokane, Wash.) collected 10 rebounds to go with her four points.
"We wanted to prove that yes, we are USA and yes, we are good," said Kevi Luper (Oral Roberts/Adair, Okla.), who added nine points and three assists. "We struggled in our first two games, but we are playing for our country, and we want to get wins for our country."
Mexico jumped to a 4-0 lead to start the game, but the USA fought back with a 6-0 run to tie the score at 10-10 when Kayla Standish (Gonzaga/Ellensburg, Wash.) scored at 3:06. The USA was scoreless for the remainder of the period while Mexico added four more points to take a 14-10 lead at the first break.
The USA trailed 16-10 early in the second quarter when seven points from Stewart ignited a 10-2 U.S. run that brought the game to 20-18 in the USA's favor with a 3-pointer form Marissa Kastanek (North Carolina State/Lincoln, Neb.) at 5:08. The teams traded baskets over the next five minutes, and Mexico's 3-pointer at 8.3 seconds remaining in the half sent the teams to the locker room with the USA down 30-27.
Flores tallied seven points in the first 2:34 of the third period to help the USA take a 36-32 lead at 7:26 before Mexico sank a 3-pointer at 7:10. From there, the U.S. offense kicked into high gear and raced to a 14-2 spurt that featured six points from Stewart and four U.S. scorers overall to give the Americans a 50-37 lead when Redmon connected off of a kick-out from Stewart at 4:00. Mexico managed to slow the onslaught, but Sykes sank a running 3-pointer from just past half court at the third-quarter buzzer to put the USA up 62-45.
Sykes' shot may have been the dagger as Mexico, which had secured Group A's No. 1 seed and spot in tomorrow's semifinal against Colombia (2-1) at 8 p.m., rested its starters almost the entire fourth quarter.
The U.S. lead ballooned to as many as 32 points as the USA went on to outscore Mexico 25-13 in the fourth period to bring the game to its 87-58 final score.
"It was just amazing," Kastanek said. "We came out, and we didn't let them set the tone for the game. That was our goal, and we accomplished that."
Mexico was led by 17 points from Erika Gomez.
Earlier today, Puerto Rico (2-1) edged out Argentina (1-2) 73-70 to secure Group A's No. 2 seed. In the 1 p.m. semifinal, Puerto Rico will meet the No. 1 seed from Group B, Brazil (3-0), which downed Colombia 86-53 in the 10:30 a.m. game. Playing for fifth place will be Argentina and Group B's No. 3 seed Canada (1-2) at 5:30 p.m.
Jennifer Gillom and Debbie Ryan are assisting on the USA sideline.