USA Shoots Out Lights Against Lotos VBW Clima With 86-64 Win
Balanced Scoring Attack Sees Six USA Players Score In Double Digits
March 21, 2004 Gdynia, Poland Box Score
Not even a power outage in the second quarter could stop the 2004 USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team (5-0), led by Tina Thompson's (Houston Comets) 21 points, as it ran away in the fourth quarter to an 86-64 victory over 2004 EuroLeague Final Four competitor Lotos VBW Clima. The game, played in front of a boisterous standing room only crowd on Sunday evening in Gdynia, Poland, saw a total of six U.S. players score in double digits.
"I was really pleased with us tonight," said USA and Houston Comets head coach Van Chancellor, who is being assisted on the sidelines by Anne Donovan (Seattle Storm). "We withstood Pee Wee (Shannon Johnson) in foul trouble, we played a really good team and I thought we played well tonight. It looks like to me we've had everything thrown at us. We have traveled far, brought players out, players in, we've played good teams, we play on the road and the lights go out, the pregame ceremony, all of that. It doesn't look like anything bothers this team. We just play and play together and play hard. Whoever's here, they show up and play."
"I thought it was very competitive," said Thompson. "Both teams came out and played really hard. The first three quarters were very competitive, but at the beginning of the fourth quarter we got an edge on them a little bit and continued to build our lead."
Facing a team with four players who are on the Polish national team (Agnieszka Bibrzycka, Joanna Cuprys, Margo Dydek and Paulina Pawlak), as well as a pair from the United States (Chasity Melvin and Elaine Powell), the U.S. ran out to an 8-2 lead in the first 3:31 of the game. But San Antonio Silver Stars' 7-2 center Margo Dydek scored Lotos' first eight points and at 4:08 the U.S. held a 12-8 lead. Receiving points from four different players, the Americans outscored the Poles 12-8 to close the quarter ahead 24-16.
Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) tallied the USA's first six points of the second quarter and assisted Thompson on the next bucket as the U.S. launched an 11-5 assault for a 35-23 lead at 6:29. At the 3:47 mark, with the red, white and blue still carrying a double-digit lead, 39-27, the arena's lights dimmed. Whether the 15:26 delay was due to a blown fuse or the USA's hot shooting in the first half (19-33 FGs) is a matter of speculation. Either way, the delay didn't sideline the Americans' offense as they allowed just one Lotos field goal in an 8-4 spurt that ended the half with the USA on top by 16, 47-31.
Lotos came out of the locker room on fire and in just under five minutes, closed to 54-44. Baskets were swapped by both teams until Elaine Powell drove for a layup at 3:11, which cut the USA's lead to single digits, 59-50. The Polish pro squad reduced it to eight points, 63-55, but Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) found Ruth Riley (Detroit Shock) open as the third period expired and the U.S. was up by 10 again, 65-55.
If Lotos VBW Clima had thoughts of an upset, it was short lived. Sheryl Swoopes (Houston Comets) and Tangela Smith (Sacramento Monarchs) hit back-to-back buckets to open the fourth. After a Lotos layup by Agnieszka Bibrzycka put the score at 69-57, the only field goal for her squad in the fourth quarter, the USA reeled off 10 unanswered points to virtually put the game away 79-57 at 4:58. During the run, Bird hit her two threes of the game, while Riley contributed the remaining four points. The game's final five minutes saw Lotos shoot 7-of-10 from the line as the U.S. closed with its second victory of the European Tour.
Thompson, who shot a perfect 6-of-6 from the charity stripe, had 14 of her eventual 21 points by halftime. The USA's scoring efforts were further bolstered by 12 points apiece from Tangela Smith and Swoopes; Katie Smith (Minnesota Lynx), a former member of the Lotos VBW Clima squad (2001-02, 2002-03), scored 11 points; while Bird and Catchings added 10 each. Tangela Smith grabbed a game high seven rebounds, Bird and Swoopes passed off for five and four assists, respectively, and Katie Smith came up with a team best three steals.
Dydek scored a team high 13 points, Powell had 11 and Melvin tossed in 10 points.
Shooting 54.7 percent (35-64 FGs) on the night, the U.S. scorched the nets in the first half with 57.6 percent (19-33 FGs) of its tries, while Lotos VBW Clima was held to 40.7 percent (22-54 FGs). The USA outrebounded its opponent 32-24. Additionally, despite only being together for four days as a group, the United States passed off for 20 assists on 35 field goals.
Tari Phillips (New York Liberty) fractured the fourth metacarpal in her left hand and did not compete against Lotos VBW Clima. Additionally, she will not play in the USA's final four European Tour games.
Moving to the Czech Republic, the United States continues play March 23 and 24 in Brno against 2003 European Championship silver medalist Czech Republic, with both games slated to begin at 5:00 p.m. (all game times local / six hours ahead of EST). The U.S. will face another 2004 Final Four advancing team, MiZo Pecsi VSK in Pecs, Hungary, on March 27 at 6:00 p.m., before capping its European Tour against Hungary in Budapest on March 28 at 5:00 p.m.
Opening its spring training with a sweep of a three-game series versus Cuba in Havana Feb. 24-26, following its Feb. 19-27 European Tour, the USA will take a short break before gathering April 2-13 for a previously announced four-game domestic tour that will see the U.S. compete in New Orleans, La. (April 3), Denver (April 9), Lubbock, Texas (April 12) and Houston (April 13). Upon the conclusion of its April training, the U.S. team members will break for the WNBA season and reconvene on Aug. 3 to complete their pre-Olympic training at sites to be announced.
The U.S. squad is competing in Europe without its All-World center Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles Sparks), who had a prior commitment; DeLisha Milton (Los Angeles Sparks), who tore the ACL in her right knee on Feb. 22; and Dawn Staley (Charlotte Sting), who is the head coach at 2004 NCAA Tournament competitor Temple University.
USA head coach VAN CHANCELLOR, Houston Comets
Are you where you want to be with the USA team core group members?
SUE BIRD, Seattle Storm
On the game:
What are your goals as you go forward this week?
TAMIKA CATCHINGS, Indiana Fever
How has your stay been here in Poland?
What did you think of the crowd tonight?
KATIE SMITH, Minnesota Lynx
Did you know they were going to present you with gifts before the
What was it like going up against some of your former teammates?
On where the team is right now:
TINA THOMPSON, Houston Comets
On the USA's third quarter lapse: