LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The U.S. won the gold medal in the FIBA U19 Women’s World Cup with a 69-66 victory over Spain today in Madrid, with UCLA guard Kiki Rice added an insurance free throw with seven seconds left after Ohio State forward Cotie McMahon made the tie-breaking layup with 22 seconds to play.

The U.S. entered the fourth quarter with a 54-52 lead. Incoming Notre Dame freshman guard Hannah Hidalgo’s 3-point basket off Rice’s assist with 6:14 remaining capped a tie-breaking 8-0 run that gave the U.S. a 62-54 lead.

Guard Elena Buenavida scored five points during Spain’s ensuing 7-0 run that cut the deficit to 62-61 with 3:46 left. McMahon ended the run with a driving layup with 3:03 to play.

Spain tied the score, 66-66, on Buenavida’s 3-point play with 1:25 remaining and guard Iyana Martin Carrion’s driving layup with 45 seconds left.

Spain did not get a shot off on the possession following McMahon’s basket, with Hidalgo stealing the ball from guard Alicia Florez Getino with 11 seconds to play.

Spain also did not get a shot off after center Awa Fam grabbed the rebound after Rice missed her second free throw.

McMahon led the Americans with 16, making six of eight shots and four of five free throws. University of South Carolina sophomore guard Chloe Kitts was the other American in double figures with 15 points, making seven of 12 shots.

Carrion led all scorers with 19, while Buenavida added 16 and Fam 11 in front of a crowd announced at 7,033 at Palacio de Deportes de la Comunidad

Rice scored six, making two of five shots and two of three free throws. Fellow UCLA sophomore guard Londynn Jones added three in 16:30 off the bench.

The U.S. was 7-0 in the tournament, with Rice starting all seven games and averaging 10 points per game. The U.S. has won 21 consecutive games since an 86-82 loss to Russia in the 2017 gold medal game.

Spain was 6-1. It is fourth in the girls’ rankings compiled by FIBA, basketball’s international governing body, based on recent performances in international tournaments. The U.S. is ranked first.

The U.S. has won each of the last three editions of the tournament, nine of the past 10 and 10 of the 15 all-time. It began in 1985, was played on a quadrennial basis through 2005 and a biennial basis since 2007.

Players in the tournament must be born on or after Jan. 1, 2004.

The gold medal is fourth in international competition for Rice and third for Jones. They were teammates on the U.S. teams that won the gold medals in the 2019 FIBA Americas U16 Championship and 2022 FIBA U18 Americas Championship. Rice also played for the U.S. team that won the gold medal in the 2022 FIBA 3×3 U18 World Cup.

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.