USA Women’s National Team Steamrolls Australia 89-56 In Exhibition Play
Sept. 10, 2010 • Hartford, Conn.
The 2010 USA Basketball Women's National Team (1-0) opened its first of four exhibition games prior to the 2010 FIBA World Championship with an easy, 89-56 win over defending world champion Australia (0-1) on Friday night at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.
Maya Moore (University of Connecticut) led the way with 16 points; followed by 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and three assists from Kara Lawson (Connecticut Sun); and 12 points, three assists, three steals and three blocked shots from Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever). Jayne Appel (San Antonio Silver Stars) grabbed a game-high eight rebounds to go with her seven points.
"Coming out of the game I felt like the five days that we spent working together, what you saw out there tonight was a result of that," said Geno Auriemma, USA and University of Connecticut head coach. "They were really good in those areas. They played together; they played hard. We really did a great job on the defensive end.
"Tonight there was a little bit of energy on the floor for our team. That energy wasn't just on the offensive end trying to get a shot. It was on the defensive end trying to get a shot. It was, every time we shot the ball, we wanted to get another possession. That's something that will carry us, whether we have our big guys or not. If you play like that, you have a chance to win against whoever you're playing."
The game's start was a sign of things to come as the USA forced a shot-clock violation after Australia secured the tip. Overall, the USA forced 24 Aussie turnovers and collected 14 steals, while committing just nine turnovers of its own.
USA forward Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun) scored the first four points for the red, white and blue, and Australia's 6'8" Elizabeth Cambage, who finished with a game-high 18 points, scored her team's first six, and the battle was fought in the paint for much of the game.
Renee Montgomery dishes to Lindsey Harding for an easy two points against Australia
A 3-pointer from Lawson and a bucket from Ebony Hoffman (Indiana Fever), however, gave the USA a 9-7 advantage at 6:12 in the first period. The USA held Australia scoreless for the next 2:22, and its lead stretched to 17-9 after a Catchings jumper and six straight points inside from Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun). Moore and Catchings combined for the USA's next nine points to help the USA close the first quarter with a 26-16 advantage.
"I thought that everybody came out real focused, real determined and I think the biggest thing for us was the opportunity to get out there and play," Catchings said. "A lot of players are still trying to make the team and they were really stepping in. Geno talked yesterday about everybody contributing something, whether it's a good screen, a good shot, a good rebound, whatever it is. I thought everybody came out and did something positive."
The USA continued to pull away in the second quarter, propelled by a 15-0 run that started with a pull-up jumper from Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx) at 6:58 and ended with another 3-pointer from Moore at 1:29 that brought the score to 46-22. Australia scored before the buzzer sounded to send the teams to the locker room with the USA up by 22 points, 46-24.
USA head coach Geno Auriemma discusses strategy during a time out against Australia.
"I thought that coach brought up a great point in the locker room: the fact that we had I think about nine turnovers and we scored almost 90 points, so that was good," Moore said. "We were sharing the ball, getting good shots. It was a fun game to play, and it was a great start to this portion of our time together, just to show that we're going to play hard the whole time. We're going to play together, and it's always fun when you're surrounded players who feel that way, who are going to compete and go to war for you."
Seven U.S. players put points on the board in the third period as the lead stretched to as many as 26 points, including five more from Lawson and four from Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx). Headed into the final stanza, the USA had secured a 64-42 advantage and the game's outcome.
The fourth period was more of the same, and the USA took its largest lead, an 87-50 advantage at 1:56, off of a fast break bucket from Augustus.
Eleven of the 12 U.S. players scored in the game, which ended with the USA leading 89-56.
"It felt really good," Whalen said. "I think there's a lot of anticipation energy that you have coming in before your first game. We've been working towards this, and it felt really good to get out there and finally play a game, put some of those things we've done in practice together on the court. It was a lot of fun."
Both teams were without their full complement of players. While Australia was missing 2010 WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson and 2006 FIBA World Championship MVP Penny Taylor, the USA was without the Seattle Storm's Sue Bird and Swin Cash, who are battling the Atlanta Dream's Angel McCoughtry and USA assistant coach Marynell Meadors in the WNBA Finals. They are expected to join the squad upon the conclusion of the finals.
Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury), Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky) and Cappie Pondexter (New York Liberty) also are expected to join the team prior to its departure for Spain on Sept. 13.
"(Tonight) was two teams playing without all of their players," Auriemma said. "We understand that. But the two teams that played tonight, I thought of the two, we executed and we did the things that we wanted to do, and I'm really, really happy for that."
The U.S. team will practice at 11:00 a.m. on Sept. 11 at the XL Center and will cap its domestic training with a friendly against Spain, the No. 5-ranked women's program in the world, at 1:00 p.m. on Sept. 12. Practice is open to credentialed media only and media will be allowed to view approximately the final 30 minutes of each practice.
Tickets for the Sept. 12 exhibition game are on sale now online at www.ticketmaster.com, through Ticketmaster charge by phone at 1-800-745-3000 and in person at the XL Center box office. Ticket prices range from $75, $50, $30, $20 and $10 respectively, and additional fees may apply.
In addition, the University of Hartford will play host to an exhibition between Australia and Spain on Sept. 11 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets for the Australia - Spain exhibition game are $10 and can also be purchased through Ticketmaster.
Traveling to Salamanca, Spain, the USA National Team will face Australia a second time, on Sept. 17 (time TBD) in the first game of the 2010 Spain International Invitational. Spain will tip-off against Senegal in the second game of the day and the winners will meet on Sept. 18 (times TBD) for the championship. The losing teams will play for third place.
The U.S. will get one final warm-up before the start of the 2010 FIBA World Championship when it faces host Czech Republic in a scrimmage in Brno on Sept. 20 (time TBD).
The official, 12-member 2010 USA Women's World Championship Team will be selected sometime before Sept. 21.
Assisting Auriemma and the USA National Team through the 2010 FIBA World Championship are DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno, Los Angeles Sparks head coach Jennifer Gillom and Meadors.
The U.S. will look to capture the title at the 2010 FIBA World Championship that will be held Sept. 23 - Oct. 3 in Brno, Karlovy Vary and Ostrava, Czech Republic, with the gold medal winner earning a berth to the 2012 Olympic Games.