USA Women Knock Off Euroleasing Sopron 79-65 For Second Win
October 10, 2009 Ekaterinburg, Russia
|Tina Charles reeled off 10 straight points in the second quarterto help the USA break away from Sopron.|
Behind a balanced scoring attack that saw all 12 healthy USA players score, including a USA high 15 points from University of Connecticut senior Tina Charles, the USA Women's National Team (2-0) defeated Euroleasing Sopron (0-2) 79-65 in round-robin play at the Ekaterinburg International Invitational Saturday affternoon.
The U.S. caps the tournament Sunday against host and undefeated UMMC Ekaterinburg. UMMC Ekaterinburg, which finished third in the 2009 EuoLeague, pounded USK Prague 94-65 in Saturday's other contest to improve to 2-0. In addition to UMMC Ekaterinburg, also competing in the four-team 2009 Ekaterinburg International Invitational are EuroLeague professional teams ZVVZ USK Prague from the Czech Republic and the Hungary professional team MKB Euroleasing Sopron.
'I thought there were stretches where we looked really, really good. But as is the case here, it is very difficult to play defensively against these teams because they're experienced, they know each other so well, they move so well without the ball and there were times when we had a diff time trying to find where they were,' said USA head coach Geno Auriemma.
'I thought in the third quarter we were really, really good and we had great energy on the defensive and we really pushed the ball at them and were able to convert. I thought Asjha Jones played great; Sue (Bird) was really good; Tina (Charles) came off the bench and gave us a great start to the second half. It's been a team effort so far. We haven't had to rely on any one individual.'
|Renee Montgomery drives to the basket looking for a easy two.|
Holding a 16-13 advantage with 2:00 remaining in the opening quarter, Shameka Christon (New York Liberty) connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to help push the USA build a cushion and take a 22-15 lead after the first quarter.
Still holding a seven-point lead, 28-21, with 5:57 to play before halftime, Renee Montgomery (Minnesota Lynx) scored off a drive and Charles then took over inside and scored the USA's next eight points in a 10-2 run that left the Americans ahead 38-23 with 2:51 to play in the quarter.
'I was just doing what coach said, just take advantage of every opportunity, and I was just doing things that he taught me to do,' stated Charles.
But Sopron, which made 4-of-11 threes in the first half, got 3-pointers from three different players in a span of 1:14 and quickly reduced to USA lead to six, 38-32. Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) dropped a short jumper and the USA retired to their locker room at halftime leading 40-32.
With the USA possessing a 49-40 lead with six minutes left in the third quarter, Christon drained her third 3-point of the afternoon, and following a pair of inside baskets by Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun) and another basket in the paint by Charles, the U.S. lead reached 58-42, equaling its largest lead of the game to that point.
Sopron again looked to the 3-ball to rally and after hitting a pair of 3-pointers and outscoring the U.S.10-3 over the last three minutes, the game was still undecided as the USA owned a 61-52 lead heading itno the final quarter.
The Americans finally sealed the win after outscoring Sopron 11-2 to open the fourth quarter and grab control 72-54 with 5:22 remaining. Sopron made it 72-58 with 3:55 left, but Christon's final three on the day turned back their comeback hopes and the USA went on to post the 79-65 victory.
'You know it's just one of those things and you really don't think about it. As a shooter you've just got to know that you've been there before and shoot the ball and that's what I do, I just let it go,' stated Christon. 'All the defenses have been collapsing on our posts trying to help out and our posts have been doing a great job of finding me as well as the other outside shooters.'
All of Christon's 12 points were tallied from behind the 3-point arc where she made 4-of-6 tries. Jones contributed 11 points, Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream) finished with nine points and shared the USA's top rebounding honors with Charles as both players pulled in seven boards. 2008 Olympic gold medalist Candace Parker did not play because of a dislocated left shoulder suffered during the first minute of the second quarter in the USA's game Friday. She is listed day-to-day.
The U.S. shot 53.3 percent from the field and was 9-of-11 from the foul line, while Sopron shot 40.6 percent from the floor overall, including 35.0 percent from 3-point, and made just 6-of-16 free throw attempts. Outrebounding Sopron 34-28, the USA was whistled for 20 turnovers.
'We're up against it a little bit tomorrow,' commented Auriemma about the USA contest against UMMC Ekaterinburg. 'Obviously they're the home team and they've been together for a long time. They have great talent at every position. A lot of our talented players are home, maybe our most talented player here, Candace Parker, isn't playing. So we're up against it, a lot of our young guys are really going to be challenged against some experienced, good players. So I'm anxious to see how we do.'
Auriemma is being assisted through the 2010 FIBA World Championship by DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno and Minnesota Lynx head coach Jennifer Gillom.