Balanced Scoring Paves Way To 100-81 Win In Ekaterinburg International Invitational Opening Game
-- Angel McCoughtry Scores 17 To Lead Balanced Offensive Showing --
October 9, 2009 Ekaterinburg, Russia
Getting 17 points from Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream) and double-digit scoring from Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun), Tina Charles (University of Connecticut / Jamaica, N.Y.) and Shameka Christon (New York Liberty), the USA Women's National Team (1-0) opened the Ekaterinburg International Invitational Friday evening with an impressive offensive showing that saw the U.S. roll to a 100-81 victory over the Czech professional team ZVVC UKA Prague (0-1).
|Sue Bird (6) and Swin Cash (11) double team a ZVVZ UKA Phala player during Friday's game which the USA won 100-81.|
In addition to the Czech Republic professional team ZVVZ USK Prague, also competing in the four-team 2009 Ekaterinburg International Invitational are Euroleague professional teams MKB Euroleasing Sopron from Hungary and the host Russian team, UMMC Ekaterinburg. The U.S. continues the round-robin tournament against Euroleasing Sopron on Saturday and caps the tournament against host and 2009 EuoLeague third place finisher UMMC Ekaterinburg on Sunday.
-Like I told the players, we didn't know anything about each other going into the game; we didn't know anything about the other team going into the game; so it was a real learning experience for all of us," said USA and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma. - I thought we played pretty well offensively. Not having Candace (Parker) the last 30 minutes of the game and we still put up 100 points is pretty good. I thought defensively we looked like we didn't know exactly how to guard them and that's probably something that we have to take care of. For the first time out I thought we looked pretty good to be honest with you."
Tied eight all with 6:08 to play in the opening quarter, the USA, behind eight points from 2008 Olympic gold medalist Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks), pushed ahead 22-8 following 14-0 run.
While the U.S. enjoyed a 24-10 lead after the game's first 10 minutes, Parker injured her left shoulder in the first minute of the second quarter and left the game in pain and did not return. UKA Prague reeled off the first six points of the second quarter, but Charles countered with six consecutive points of her own to help the USA reestablish a 30-16 lead with 7:52 left before halftime.
|U.S. mentor Geno Auriemma talks to his team just prior to the game's opening tip. The USA wenton to record a 100-81 win over ZVVZ UKA Praha in the Ekaterinburg International Invitational.|
The Czech squad battled back once more behind a 15-4 offensive onslaught that was capped by Evanthia Maltsi's 3-pointer that cut the USA advantage to 34-31 with 4:15 remaining before halftime.
USA forward Jones scored inside to turn back the rally and a Fowles' hoop closed out an 8-0 run that pushed the USA back in front 42-31. Jones scored four of the USA's last six points, but a half-court shot by UKA's Maltsi just before the halftime buzzer foud the mark and left the score 48-36 at the midway break.
McCoughtry hit the Americans first two 3-pointers and accounted for the USA's first nine points of the third quarter and when Christon followed McCoughtry's three with a 3-pointer of her own, the USA lead had expanded to 20, 64-44.
The U.S. closed out the third quarter up 75-58, then opened the final period with a 9-2 run to grab an 84-60 advantage and its lead from there never fell below 20 points.
While McCoughtry recorded her 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting, including 2-of-2 from beyond the 3-point arc, the 2009 WNBA Rookie of the Year also added a team best nine rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots. Fowles finished with 14 points and seven rebounds, Jones added 13 points, Charles was credited with 13 points and Christon finished with 10 points. Bird, while tossing in four points, led the USA offense and was credited with nine assists.
The USA owned a 49-32 advantage on the glass and snagged 20 offensive boards. The U.S. shot 50.6 percent from the field and made 4-of-9 3-pointers, while holding UKA Prague to 41.4 percent shooting and just 8-of-28 shooting from 3-point.
-I thought we did a good job. The first game you never really know what to expect, there's some jitters you have to get out, you've got to kind of get your feet wet, but we definitely have some things to improve on but for the most part we did a really good job, everybody played hard and did a good job,' said Bird.
The USA's strong post play was not lost on the veteran guard.
-It's great. We're very deep at the post, we have so much talent and so many different players who can do different things, it just makes us extremely difficult to guard."
Auriemma is being assisted through the 2010 FIBA World Championship by DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno and Minnesota Lynx head coach Jennifer Gillom.