July 10, 2010 • Uncasville, Conn.
In front of a sold out crowd of 9,518 and an ESPN nationally televised audience, the 2010 USA Basketball Women’s National Team struck first and never trailed en route to a 99-72 victory over a team comprised of WNBA stars. Played Saturday afternoon at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., the WNBA vs. USA Basketball: The Stars at the Sun Game saw five USA players score in double digits, led by game MVP Sylvia Fowles’ (Chicago Sky) 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field.
“Coming into today (I was) not exactly sure what we were gonna see,” said USA and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma, who will guide the USA National Team through 2012. “We kind of had an idea going in that some of the older players would play really well. They’ve been together awhile. They know each other. They feed off each other pretty well.
“I thought the fact that we had 30 assists, 32 assists, something like that, is just an incredible number. To be able to spread the ball around like that, share, make the extra pass, all the things you would want to see a team do. Obviously we got a lot of work to do, but for the first time being with this group, we got a chance to be pretty good.”
Fowles hit the first bucket of the game on a feed from Cappie Pondexter (New York Liberty), who dished out a game-high six assists in all. After the WNBA squad tied up the score, Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) hit a 16-footer, followed by a lay-up and a 3-pointer in just under a minute as the U.S. went up 9-2. The red, white and blue continued to slowly pull away and by the end of the first quarter led 29-9, thanks in part to 10 points from Fowles.
“It’s a big role that I have to take on, but at the same time I played under Lisa (Leslie) and Tina (Thompson) for a year to learn a couple of things,” said Fowles regarding having to step into the starting role in the post for the USA National Team. “When you got great teammates like Diana to stay in your ear and get things done on the floor, I don’t think you have no choice but to go out and compete to the best of your abilities every night.”
By halftime the USA National Team, which finished the game with 32 assists on 42 field goals, held a comfortable 49-28 cushion.
The USA’s largest lead of the contest was 31 points, 68-37, with 3:38 to play in the third quarter.
The WNBA squad won the fourth quarter 28-24, but by then it was too late as the U.S. came away with the win.
“I thought we did a great job,” said Pondexter. For the core group to finally coming together and play with the rest of players who are in the pool, I think we did a great job of having great intensity and following Geno’s game plan.”
Swin Cash (Seattle Storm) and Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury) scored 13 points apiece in the lopsided win, while Maya Moore (University of Connecticut) tossed in 12 and Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream) had 11 points.
Helping the USA’s 39-30 rebounding edge with eight boards apiece were Dupree, Fowles and Moore; while Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) and Moore dished out five apiece.
“Well, you know, I think we did a pretty good job tonight of getting the things done that we talked about prior to the game,” said Taurasi, who finished with nine points. “That was just to play with a lot of energy, play hard for 40 minutes. It is an All Star Game, but I think it was a different focus knowing that we don’t have many opportunities to practice together, to train together. So every opportunity, we have to use it. I think tonight was a nice step for us going into tomorrow’s scrimmage and then later into the Czech Republic in September. So I think we did a pretty good job.”
The USA shot a sizzling 56.0 percent (42-75 FGs) from the field and a respectable 35.3 percent (6-17 3pt FGs) from beyond the arc, while its defense held the WNBA squad to just 37.1 percent (26-70 FGs) from the floor and 23.5 percent (4-17 3pt FGs) from 3-point.
Auriemma, who led the USA to the 2009 UMMC Ekaterinburg Invitational gold medal, now owns a 4-0 record as the USA National Team head coach and is 19-5 overall as a USA Basketball head coach.
Additional USA National Team members training in Connecticut are: Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Shameka Christon (Chicago Sky), Lindsey Harding (Washington Mystics), Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun), Kara Lawson (Connecticut Sun) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx).
USA National Team hopefuls Jayne Appel (Stanford University), who attended the team’s first two training camps, but was injured and unable to participate, Ebony Hoffman (Indiana Fever) and Kia Vaughn (New York Liberty) have been practicing alongside USA National Team members during this training camp in the hopes of being added to the squad at a later date.
U.S. players who do not have to immediately return to their WNBA teams following the game, will remain in Connecticut to scrimmage the Australia National Team on July 11 at 11:00 a.m. at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The USA versus Australia scrimmage is not open to the public.
Auriemma is being assisted through the 2010 FIBA World Championship by DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno, Los Angeles Sparks head coach Jennifer Gillom and Atlanta Dream head coach Marynell Meadors.
The USA National Team is preparing for the 2010 FIBA World Championship, hosted Sept. 23 – Oct 3. by the Czech Republic. There’s more at stake at the World Championship than just a gold medal. The winner of the tournament earns an automatic berth to the 2012 Olympic Games.
In the past dozen years, the highly successful USA Basketball Women’s National Team program, ranked No. 1 in the world by FIBA, has posted a 63-1 slate in major international competitions, winning four consecutive Olympic gold medals (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008), two FIBA World Championship golds (1998, 2002), one FIBA World Championship bronze medal (2006) and one FIBA Americas Championship gold medal (2007).
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