USA Women’s National Team Drops Exhibition Contest To Australia, 83-77
Sept. 17, 2010 • Salamanca, Spain
Despite receiving 18 points and seven rebounds from Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun), the 2010 USA Basketball Women’s National Team (2-1) fell to Australia 83-77 in its third pre-World Championship exhibition contest on Friday night in Salamanca, Spain. The game, which opened the two-day Spain International Invitational, also saw Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx) check in for 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field, including the USA’s only 3-pointer; while Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) and Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
In the second game of the day, Spain takes on Senegal. The U.S. will close exhibition play against the loser of tonight’s game on Saturday night at 5:00 p.m. (11:00 a.m. EDT) in the consolation contest, while Australia will face the winner in the championship game.
“I thought our defense was nowhere near as good as it was when we played (Australia) in Hartford,” said USA and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma. “I thought our energy level was way below where it needed to be, and I was really disappointed in our rebounding and how many times we would get a stop and they were able to continue the possession by getting an offensive rebound. They are an excellent free-throw shooting team, and we put them on the free-throw line. So, we gave up threes, we put them on the free-throw line and we gave them second shots. Anytime you do that against a team, especially a good team, you’re not going to win the game.”
“They were just aggressive on the boards,” added Charles “And I think that’s one thing they try to take advantage of, especially their guards. Their guards just really dove in there and got on the boards, especially (Holly) Grima.”
Featuring seven tied scores and six lead changes, the game was close through three quarters.
Tina Charles' Three-Point Play
The first quarter, which saw all the knotted scores, was a struggle for the U.S. The American women committed 10 turnovers in the opening 10 minutes, no less than half of which came from traveling calls, and closed the quarter trailing 20-17.
Regaining the lead midway through the second quarter on a Whalen jumper that put the squad up 30-29, the USA retained its edge and was up 34-31 with four minutes to play before the half. However, Australia went on a 5-0 run to head into the locker room at the midway break leading 36-34.
The U.S. continued to struggle to find its rhythm in the second half, and with 1:30 to play in the third quarter, Australia was up 61-54. Renee Montgomery (Connecticut Sun) hit a free throw to start a 6-0 run that included a Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx) steal and pass to Charles for a traditional 3-point play and Kara Lawson (Connecticut Sun) drove the lane with seven seconds on the clock as the U.S. closed to within a point, 61-60, with 10 minutes remaining.
Linsday Whalen Coast-To-Coast
Augustus extended the USA’s run with a jumper to open the fourth quarter scoring, but as was the case all night, Australia struck right back with a 9-0 scoring streak to retake the lead for good, 70-62, with 7:38 to play. The Americans pulled as close as 70-67 at the 6:17 mark, but their struggles continued as Australia prevailed for the win.
“We definitely didn’t play our best game,” said Whalen. “Right now, it’s kind of hard to point to positives, but I think we played hard and fell short tonight. We had a tough shooting night. There were a lot of fixable things that we didn’t do well, and those are things we can work on. So, I think a big positive for tonight is the difference makers are all things that we can control and things that we can get better at. We will change our mind set and look forward to the next practice, the next game and improving.”
While the U.S. shot 48.4 percent (30-62 FGs) overall from the field, it connected on just 9.1 percent
(1-11 3pt FGs) from beyond the arc and finished the night with 22 turnovers. Meanwhile, Australia hit just 38.0 percent (27-71 FGs) from the field and a sizzling 50.0 percent (8-16 3pt FGs) from afar. The Opals outrebounded the U.S. 43-38 and grabbed 20 offensive boards. Additionally, the Aussies shot 84.0 percent
(21-25 FTs) from the line.
Jenna O’Hea’s 24 points led Australia, which got 18 points from Penny Taylor and 17 from Liz Cambage, while Hollie Grima grabbed a game-best 13 rebounds to go with five points.
“Today was another great reminder why they are the world champs, and we have to keep working hard to get better every single day,” said Taurasi. “They’re a hell of a team, and today they played really well.”
Maya Moore (University of Connecticut) did not play due to FIBA regulations requiring no more than 12 players to a team, while Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky) is rehabbing her right knee and is listed as day-to-day.
The USA was also without the Seattle Storm’s Sue Bird and Swin Cash, who won the 2010 WNBA championship last night against the Atlanta Dream’s Angel McCoughtry and USA assistant coach Marynell Meadors. All four are expected to join the squad in the Czech Republic.
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 must be announced by the FIBA technical meeting on 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.