GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- The United States salvaged some pride with an 87-58 victory over Mexico on Sunday night in women's basketball at the Pan American Games.
The Americans were led by 17-year-old high school senior Breanna Stewart, who scored 17 points and sat out most of the final quarter. The U.S. played with an inexperienced, quickly assembled team that had only five practice sessions before the tournament opened. They lost two close games in group play, falling to Puerto Rico 75-70 and to Argentina 58-55.
Another loss would have been, well, humiliating.
"It would have been a really bad feeling losing again," said Katelan Redmon, a senior at Gonzaga University. "I don't know if they would have let us back in the States if we would have come home losing all the games."
The United States faces Jamaica on Monday in the seventh-place game. Jamaica lost its three games, falling to Colombia 83-26, to Brazil 116-34 and to Canada 96-29.
The Americans were eliminated from any chance of reaching the medal round when Argentina defeated Mexico 58-57 on Saturday. It's the first time that the U.S. didn't medal at the Pan Am games.
"I guess you could say it came a little too late, but at least we are all clicking as a team now," said Stewart, a forward at Cicero North Syracuse High School in Syracuse, New York.
Stewart is one of the nation's top high school players and said she will sign next month with the University of Connecticut.
She was the only high school player on a team made up entirely of university players from a wide range of schools including North Carolina State, Mississippi, Hofstra and the University of California-Santa Barbara. Only Stewart had any real international experience, winning a gold medal in July as a member of the FIBA U-19 world championship team.
"Just playing with older players like this you can always get better," Stewart said.
Mexico led 30-27 at halftime, but the Americans went on a 14-2 run in the third quarter to take control.
United States coach Ceal Barry, who was the head women's coach at the University of Colorado for 22 years, found the positive to emphasize.
"People can evaluate however they want," she said. "But when you're a coach or player and you're on a trip in another country and it's the first time, I think people will say this team got better as it went along."