One week after Pitt volleyball head coach Dan Fisher led the United States to bronze medals at the Pan Am Cup, women’s basketball head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio upped the ante by guiding Team USA to gold.
McConnell-Serio and the United States U18 Women’s National Team are coming home from Chile with gold around their necks after a flawless performance at the 2016 FIBA Americas Championship, capping off a perfect 5-0 record at the tournament with a 109-62 victory against Canada Sunday night.
The Canadians put up a solid effort early on. Team USA held just a three-point lead at the end of the first quarter, but the Americans pulled away to take a 51-34 halftime lead.
By the end of the third quarter, Team USA’s comfortable advantage had grown to 84-48, and the Americans were able to cruise to victory in the fourth quarter.
Team USA rolled through the entire tournament, but their easiest assignment came in the first game of the preliminary round against Guatemala Wednesday night.
McConnell-Serio’s unit out-rebounded Guatemala, 73-24, and won by a final score of 117-32. Chennedy Carter paced the team with 17 points in the opening game of the tournament in Valdivia, Chile.
Team USA ran into its toughest challenge against Brazil in their second preliminary matchup Thursday night.
The Brazilians gave the Americans all they could handle early on, but Team USA still led 42-30 at halftime. The Americans then extended their lead to 18 in the third quarter and held on to win, 80-59.
“We got off to a slow start,” McConnell-Serio said in a press release after the game. “Brazil is very talented. They are really a good team, and I was very happy with the way our team responded after they took that first punch.”
Team USA returned to its dominant ways in its third and final preliminary game Friday night, routing Venezuela by a score of 110-52 to advance to the semifinals. Jeannie Boehm led the Americans with 20 points in the victory.
McConnell-Serio had her squad in top form again for the semifinals against Puerto Rico Saturday night. The Puerto Ricans were no match for the Americans, who advanced to the finals with a 104-36 blowout win.
“This team is fun to coach,” McConnell-Serio said in a press release after the semifinal victory. “They play hard and make plays. We’ve had a balanced scoring attack with different leading scorers every night.”
The Panthers’ head coach now has another medal to add to her decorated resume in a Hall of Fame career.
As a player, McConnell-Serio won a gold medal at the 1988 Olympic Games and a bronze at the 1992 Olympics, along with gold medals at the 1985 R. William Jones Cup, 1986 FIBA Americas Championship and 1991 World University Games.
She also helped lead the Americans to gold as an assistant coach at the 2011 World University Games, giving the Pittsburgh native six gold medals and seven overall as a player and coach for Team USA.