USA Women's National Team Earns Exhibition Victory Over Australia 96-64
Despite only having 10 players on the roster, three of whom still have at least one year of collegiate eligibility remaining, the 2007 USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team (5-0) earned a 96-64 victory over Australia on Sunday afternoon at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, N.J. USA Senior National Team veteran Tina Thompson (Houston Comets) came off the bench to score a game-high 21 points, while Stanford University's Candice Wiggins scored 18 points playing in her first game with the senior squad and the University of Oklahoma's Courtney Paris logged 12 points.
To be fair, Australia was also without some of its big guns, including 2007 WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson (Seattle Storm) and Penny Taylor (Phoenix Mercury).
'We got a chance to make some good evaluations,' said USA and Seattle Storm head coach Anne Donovan. 'Look at Wiggins, she did a great job coming off the bench and really doing a good job on the perimeter for us. And we're continuing to work on our chemistry, I saw good chemistry out there, defensively, and our offenses didn't look too bad either. We still have a lot to work on and I'll be happy once we have our full roster for Chile. But overall I saw some good things out there today.'
The USA Women's Senior National Team will take Monday off and then has its final domestic practice session on Sept. 18 at the Mohegan Sun Arena beginning at 11:00 a.m. (all times EDT). The U.S. and Australia will meet up again on Sept. 19 (7:00 p.m) at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
'You're playing with such great players here, but it's still the same game,' said Wiggins, who went 3-of-4 from 3-point. 'A 3-point shot is a 3-point shot at any level. You just have to relax and play within the flow of the game. I was just relaxed and out there having fun.'
After a slow start that saw neither team get in a groove, the USA was up 8-6 after 6:35 of play. Candace Parker (University of Tennessee) got a steal and a layup at 3:06, sparking an 8-0 run and by the end of the first quarter the USA was up 18-9.
Thompson, who didn't leave the bench in the first quarter, nailed a 3-pointer on her first touch of the game as the U.S. jumped out to a quick 25-9 lead 1:32 into the second period. Australia took advantage of a USA lapse in energy and outscored the Americans 7-2 to pull to within 11 points, 27-16 at 6:59, but that was as close as the score would be for the remainder of the day. By halftime the USA was up 39-25, at the end of three it was 65-42 and the U.S. continued to cruise to the win.
Kara Lawson (Sacramento Monarchs) was the leading rebounder with seven to go with six points and a team-best four assists, Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) scored nine points and Parker finished with eight.
Natalie Porter and Rohanee Cox were Australia's top scorers with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
'I think one of the reasons I'm here is my size, my uniqueness with my strength inside so I just try to use it to my advantage,' said the 6-3 Paris, who also recorded three assists, a pair of boards and a blocked shot.
The USA shot close to 60 percent from the field (34-57 FGs), while limiting Australia to 39.7 percent (23-58 FGs) and outrebounded the Aussies 34-28. The USA, which received 65 points from its bench, collected 28 points off of Australia's 28 turnovers, while the opponents secured 14 off the USA's 20 turnovers.
The 2007-08 USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team lists a total of 27 players on its roster, including eight Olympic gold medalists, five World Championship gold medalists and all 12 members of the 2006 USA World Championship Team.
Donovan is being assisted by 2006 WNBA Coach of the Year Mike Thibault of the Connecticut Sun and collegiate head coaches Gail Goestenkors of the University of Texas and Temple University's (Pa.) Dawn Staley.
Upcoming International Competitions
Before setting its sights on defending its Olympic title, the U.S. must first qualify for the 2008 Beijing Games. Host China and 2006 FIBA World Championship gold medalist Australia have earned automatic berths to the 2008 Olympic women's basketball tournament. Five additional teams will punch their ticket to Beijing at the 2007 FIBA zone championships, as the gold medalists in each of the FIBA zones (Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania) qualify to compete in Beijing.
Slated for Sept. 26-30 in Valdivia, Chile, in addition to the USA, teams participating in the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship will be Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Cuba, Jamaica and Mexico. Should the United States not return home from Chile with the gold medal, there will be one final chance to qualify for the Olympics at the 2008 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament slated for June 9-15 at a site TBD.
Teams finishing in second, third and fourth place at the 2007 FIBA Americas tournament will have one final chance to earn a spot in Beijing's 12-nation field at the 2008 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Those three nations along with nine other national teams from around the globe who did not claim gold at the remaining FIBA zones, including two from Africa (silver and bronze medalists), two from Asia (silver and bronze medalists), four from Europe (second through fourth place finishers) and one from Oceania (silver medalist), will compete for the final five Olympic slots at the 2008 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.