Sept. 12, 2010
HARTFORD, Conn. -- The 2010 USA Basketball Women's National Team (2-0) overpowered Spain on both ends of the court and came away with a 85-69 exhibition victory on Sunday afternoon in front of 2,732 fans at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. The USA, which shot 7-of-13 from 3-point and grabbed a 47-27 rebounding advantage, staved off a late Spanish run for its second straight exhibition victory.
Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun) shot 8-of-12 from the floor and led the USA with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds. Kara Lawson (Connecticut Sun) hit 3-of-4 from beyond the arc and 2-of-2 from the line for 11 points; while Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury), Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun) and Maya Moore (University of Connecticut) contributed 10 points apiece.
"The object of these two games, obviously, was for us to get a feel for our team, put ourselves in a competitive situation against two of the world's best teams and try to work on some things at the same time," said USA and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma. "I thought both days we accomplished a lot of that. There is still a lot of work that we have to do, but we knew that was going to be the case. There are some combinations that look really good out there together, and there are some that don't. We knew that would happen, but it gave us a little bit clearer picture of what we have ahead of us, what we are facing in terms of some decisions that the committee is going to have to make, and now it's on to Spain and a couple more exhibition games, and we will know a lot more after those two. So, everything that we wanted to accomplish this weekend, we got accomplished."
Today's contest wraps the weekend's games, which saw the USA defeat Australia 89-56 on Friday night and Spain down Australia on Saturday afternoon, 87-74.
Spain went up 6-0 to open the contest, while the USA missed its first five shots and had three turnovers before Ebony Hoffman (Indiana Fever) got her squad's first points at 5:47 in the first period. Jones followed with a 6-0 run of her own and at 4:01 the USA held its first lead of the night, 8-6. However, the score see-sawed the remainder of the quarter, and at the end of the opening 10 minutes, Spain held a 17-16 edge.
Charles got an easy layup 20 seconds into the second period to give the American women the lead for good, 18-17, and spur an 8-2 run. She followed that with two more layins for the U.S., including a pretty feed inside from her former UConn teammate Moore, and after a Lawson three at 7:36, the Americans led 25-19. Alba Torrens made one of two from the line at 6:52 and closed her team's gap to five points.
The U.S., however, clamped down on defense as the offense took off on a 17-0 run that opened the game up 42-20 with 3:12 to play before halftime. Spain at 2:58 stopped the fun with a pair of free throws and following a Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx) bucket, scored its second field goal of the quarter as the USA took a 44-24 lead into the locker room. Over the final 6:30 of the first half, the USA held Spain to just 1-of-9 from the field and forced four turnovers.
"I thought overall, first half we did really well," said Catchings. "Second half, defensively, we had some let-ups here and there, but I think really we got a good feel for how good this team can be and then of course, not so good at times, just from that chemistry; we haven't played with each other, so I know Geno will probably say his few words, but I'm happy. I'm excited about what we have."
The USA held a large lead through most of the third quarter. But with the score at 62-41 and just over two minutes to play, Spain closed out the period on a 9-2 run and closed to 64-50 with 10 minutes remaining.
Following a Dupree layup at 9:41, Spain netted three straight 3-pointers in a 13-2 run and with 6:10 to pull to within five points, 68-63. Lawson made a pair of free throws and then fed Jones for two after a Spanish turnover, putting the USA back on track. By the 4:14 mark the USA's lead was back up to double digits, 76-65, and with the ship righted, the USA sailed in for the win.
Spain was led by 6-1 Anna Montanana, who finished with a game-high 21 points after shooting 8-of-14 from the field and 5-of-7 from 3-point. Alba Torrens added 13 points and Nuria Martinez chipped in 11.
"I thought we played really well today," added Catchings. "We didn't do a good job on (Anna) Montanana, but that's something that we will have to prepare for when we go to Spain."
The USA, which shot a sizzling 56.5 percent (35-62 FGs) from the field and 53.8 percent (7-13 3pt FGs) from beyond the arc, coughed up the ball 23 times and forced just 14 turnovers on the other end. The U.S. was credited with 21 assists on its 35 field goals, led by four from Moore and three each from Renee Montgomery (Connecticut Sun) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx).
"We were sloppy. Anytime you turn the ball over a lot, the defense has something to do with it," said Auriemma. "I don't know that they had something to do with 23 of them. The other night we had nine. So, we were a little careless with the ball. No question about it, and it was reflected in our offense and the continuity of our offense -- it wasn't there like it was the other day, and that's going to happen. I think nine the other night was probably, 'Wow, I can't believe that,' and 23 is like, 'Wow, I can't believe that either.' I bet you if we are around 13 or 14, that's probably normal I would say."
The USA's 3-point shooting will come into play at the FIBA World Championship not just on the scoreboard, but Auriemma has pledged $50 per made USA 3-pointer to the Czech Republic charity All Baskets Count (ABC), Kazdy Kos Pomah (KKP) in Czech. The money being raised will go to the construction of a "House for All Generations," where young men and women between 18 and 20 years of age who are leaving state run children's homes will live together and take care of seniors requiring assistance. The Czechoslovak Hussite Church announced its intention to donate the land for the construction with additional investments and operating costs to be provided by the non-government and non-profit civic associations ENYA (the Ecumenical Network For Youth Action) and KKP.
The USA was without the Seattle Storm's Sue Bird and Swin Cash, who are battling the Atlanta Dream's Angel McCoughtry and USA assistant coach Marynell Meadors in the WNBA Finals. They are expected to join the squad upon the conclusion of the finals.
Traveling to Salamanca, Spain, the USA National Team will face Australia a second time, on Sept. 17 (5:30 p.m. local / 11:30 a.m. EDT) in the first game of the 2010 Spain International Invitational. Spain will tip-off against Senegal in the second game of the day and the winners will meet on Sept. 18 (times TBD) for the championship. The losing teams will play for third place.
Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky) is rehabbing her right knee , but sat on the bench and will travel to Spain with the other 13 USA finalists.
The U.S. will get one final warm-up before the start of the 2010 FIBA World Championship when it faces host Czech Republic in a scrimmage in Brno on Sept. 20 (time TBD).
The official, 12-member 2010 USA Women's World Championship Team will be selected sometime before Sept. 21.
Assisting Auriemma and the USA National Team through the 2010 FIBA World Championship are DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno, Los Angeles Sparks head coach Jennifer Gillom and Meadors.
The U.S. will look to capture the title at the 2010 FIBA World Championship that will be held Sept. 23 - Oct. 3 in Brno, Karlovy Vary and Ostrava, Czech Republic, with the gold medal winner earning a berth to the 2012 Olympic Games.