Czechs Bounced By USA Women's National Team 73-46
March 24, 2004 Brno, Czech Republic Box Score
Relying on a suffocating defense and a balanced offensive attack that saw Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), Shannon Johnson (San Antonio Silver Stars) and Tina Thompson (Houston Comets) each contribute 12 points, while Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) added 11 points, the U.S. rolled to a 73-46 in over the Czech Republic Wednesday evening. The win improved the USA's spring training mark to 7-0 and was the team's fourth during its European tour and its second in as many nights against the Czech Republic.
"The player I was really pleased with tonight was Tamika Catchings, she played really well," said USA and Houston Comets head coach Van Chancellor, who is being assisted on the sidelines by Anne Donovan (Seattle Storm). "I was really, really pleasantly shocked with our defensive performance tonight. To give up only 46 points after playing our fourth game in five days in all kinds of environments, and against the same team we struggled with last night ... this was one of those 10-man efforts. Everybody played well, it's hard to single out anybody in particular, and I was just really pleased with our team tonight."
In a turn around from last night's close contest, the Czech Republic, which hit a chilling 29.0 percent (9-31 FGs) in the first half, missed its first five shots as the U.S. sprinted out to a 10-0 start. Thompson hit a turnaround jumper in the lane to get the scoring started at 9:23 and the USA was off and running. During the first 2:25 of the contest, and in addition to Thompson's jumper, the US received a pair of threes from Johnson, while Catchings also contributed a layup. The Czechs finally got on the board at 6:38, but by 4:10 the USA's lead was 18-6. Not allowing the Americans to run away with the game quite yet, the Czechs outscored the USA 9-6 to close out the quarter trailing 24-15.
Deanna Nolan (Detroit Shock) kicked off the second quarter with a jumper and a pair of free throws to spark a 17-4 scoring drive that saw an additional six players contribute in the scoring column. Catchings ended the spurt with a layup and with 2:45 to play the red, white and blue had the game well in hand, 41-19 and by the halftime buzzer the scoreboard read 41-22.
"Tonight we shared the ball again, but defensively we did some things differently that we didn't do yesterday," said Johnson. "We got to their passing lanes, got some early steals. As far as our offense, we did the same thing we did yesterday in terms of getting the ball, sharing the ball with everyone. The good thing about it was that we started knocking some shots down and put them away early. Our defense was better today. We wanted to go out and press them more and that was very effective for us."
Leading by 17, 47-30, the American women scored eight unanswered points in the final 3:27 of the third period to up the ante to 55-30. In keeping with the night's theme of a shared attack that kept the defense guessing, four players contributed in the run, including Catchings, Johnson, Ruth Riley (Detroit Shock) and Tangela Smith (Sacramento Monarchs) - all in that order.
Tangela Smith scored on back to back possessions to put the US up 59-30, 1:16 into the fourth quarter. With the game well in hand, the U.S. had a defensive lapse that allowed the Czechs to go on a 12-4 drive and with 4:35 to play they had closed to 63-42. But the lead was insurmountable as the United States proved too much to handle and closed the contest with a 9-4 run for the overwhelming victory.
In addition to the four players in double digits, the USA's effort was aided by a game high eight rebounds from Swin Cash (Detroit Shock), and Tangela Smith was credited with three blocked shots.
Jana Vesela came off the bench to pace her the Czechs with 12 points.
The Czechs held the U.S., averaging 51.5 percent from the field in seven games, to its lowest shooting percentage of the tour at 43.6 percent (24-55 FGs). However, the USA's defense held the Czechs to a frigid 27.3 percent (18-66 FGs), the second lowest of any US opponent in seven games. The United States also won the battle of the boards, 35-23.
After collecting four wins, two each in Poland and the Czech Republic, the U.S. will face 2004 Euroleague Final Four team, MiZo Pecsi VSK, in Pecs, Hungary, on March 27 at 6:00 p.m. (all times local, six hours ahead of EST). The USA will close its 2004 European Tour on March 28 with a 5:00 p.m. game against the Hungarian National Team in Budapest.
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 US 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 US 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 US squad is competing in Europe without its All-World center Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles Sparks), who had a prior commitment; DeLisha Milton-Jones (Los Angeles Sparks), who tore the ACL in her right knee on Feb. 22; Sheryl Swoopes (Houston Comets), who played the two games in Poland before returning home for a prior commitment; and Dawn Staley (Charlotte Sting), who is the head coach at 2004 NCAA Tournament competitor Temple University. Further, the US team is playing with 10 on its roster after Tari Phillips (New York Liberty) fractured the fourth metacarpal in her left hand and did not compete against Lotos VBW Clima, nor will she play in the USA's final European Tour games, while Nikki Teasley (Los Angeles Sparks), who was slated to join the squad in the Czech Republic, was unable to travel to Europe due to personal matters.
USA head coach VAN CHANCELLOR, Houston Comets
SUE BIRD, Seattle Storm
SHANNON JOHNSON, San Antonio Silver Stars
How is the team chemistry with this team?
RUTH RILEY, Detroit Shock
TANGELA SMITH, Sacramento Monarchs
On her play tonight: