USA Women Grab 99-73 Win Over Greece To Open 2010 FIBA World Championship Play
Sept. 23 • Ostrava, Czech Republic
The USA Basketball Women’s World Championship Team (1-0) opened up 20-point lead in the first half and finished with a 99-73 victory over Greece (0-1) to open play at the 2010 FIBA World Championship on Thursday evening in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Pacing the U.S. to victory were Swin Cash (Seattle Storm) and Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream), who arrived in Ostrava on Tuesday after competing against each other in the WNBA Finals, with 16 points apiece.
All 12 U.S. players scored in the victory, and in addition to Cash and McCoughtry, Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun) posted 12 points and nine rebounds, Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury) also scored 12 points, while Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points.
“For our first game we’re very, very happy with the way we played and not happy with some things, but very happy with the (outcome),” said USA and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma. “The first game’s always the most difficult of games because you’re not sure what your team is going to do. I thought we played a really good team, we played really well for long stretches and I’m excited about tomorrow.”
The U.S. continues preliminary play against Senegal (0-1) on Sept. 24 at 6:00 p.m. (live on NBA TV at 12:00 p.m. EDT) and closes out preliminary round play facing France (1-0) on Sept. 25 at 3:15 p.m. (live on NBA TV at 9:15 a.m. EDT). All of the USA games will air live on NBA TV, and fans can also watch live streaming of all FIBA World Championship games at www.FIBATV.com.
“I thought our effort was there,” said Cash. “I was really happy with how everyone played, and came in the game and contributed. For us, we haven’t had a lot of time together, so there were a lot of mistakes defensively that we can clean up. You’re happy that those are mistakes that you can fix. Having the talent, having the effort, is going to be something that’s really going to help us throughout this World Championship run.”
The game opened with four lead changes and one tied score, and at 7:10 the U.S. squad trailed 9-6. Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) caught a pass from Catchings, drove to the hoop for two, and then followed that with a 3-pointer to give the Americans the lead for good, 11-9, at 6:22. Taurasi’s five points sparked what became a 24-6 spurt that included points from six different players, and with 1:15 left in the first period, the lead was 30-15.
The U.S. expanded its lead to 20 points, 48-28, on a McCoughtry steal and layup at 2:21 in the second quarter and at the midway break owned a 52-35 advantage. Eight of the 10 USA team members who played in the first half put up points by halftime, including Cash and McCoughtry, who had 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Greece came out strong in the second half, forced four quick turnovers and cut the deficit to 54-42. After a Charles bucket, Auriemma called a time out, and sent in five fresh players, who put up six straight points to retake the momentum. By the end of the third quarter, the USA’s lead was 67-50.
Dupree scored eight of the USA’s first 10 points of the fourth quarter, but Greece kept pace and with fewer than seven minutes to go the game was still a 17-point affair, 77-60. A 10-0 run, spurred by three points and a steal from McCoughtry, opened the contest back up and left no doubt about the outcome, only the final score.
In addition to the scoring leaders, the USA received six of its 21 assists from Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), who also chipped in six points on her two 3-point attempts of the night; and McCoughtry was credited for a team-high of five steals.
Greece was led by former Connecticut Sun player and MVP of the 2009 European Championship Evanthia Maltsi, who had a game-high 29 points, and Styliani Kaltsidou with 21 points.
“I don’t think (people) realize that there are teams out there like Greece that are very smart, very smart on offense,” said Auriemma. “They had two players tonight that we couldn’t stop, and they kept going to those two players. Those two players kept getting open, and those two players kept scoring. It was a difficult assignment for us. Yeah, we played really well on the offensive end. We have more talented players than Greece, and we have more of them. Because of that, after awhile we started to wear down the Greece players.”
As a team, the USA dominated the glass, 43-29, with every member of the squad securing at least one carom each. The U.S. also scorched the nets with a 55.7 shooting percentage (39-70 FGs) and 45.5 percent (5-11 3pt FGs) from 3-point range, while Greece also hit a respectable 48.3 percent (28-58 FGs) from the floor, but managed just 39.1 percent (9-23 3pt FGs) from 3-point.
“Oh my gosh. It was so much fun, playing with all these great players,” said McCoughtry, who is playing in her first FIBA World Championship. “It was a great experience, and the crowd was kind of behind us, so it was good to see the crowd cheering for us. It's fun to hear the different languages on the court. But it was just a good experience overall.”
In other Group B action, France (1-0) surpassed Senegal (0-1) 83-45. Group A saw Belarus (1-0) clip China (0-0) 68-57 and Australia (1-0) defeated Canada (0-1) 72-47 in Ostrava. In Brno, South Korea (1-0) edged Brazil (0-1) 61-60, and Spain (1-0) rolled past Mali (0-1) 80-36 in Group C; and in Group D games Japan (0-1) was overmatched by Russia (1-0) 86-63, and host Czech Republic (1-0) earned a 67-53 win over Argentina (0-1).
Following preliminary play, the USA will cross over against the top three finishers out of Pool A, which includes defending world champ Australia, Belarus, Canada and China, for the Sept. 27-29 second round games to be played in Ostrava. The medal round will be played in Karlovy Vary, with the quarterfinals scheduled for Oct. 1, the semifinals on Oct. 2 and the medal games played on Oct. 3.
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 Atlanta Dream head coach / general manager Marynell Meadors.
Not only is a gold medal at stake, but the gold medalists will earn a berth to the 2012 Olympic Games.
Should the U.S. not finish with the gold medal in ‘10, it would have two additional chances to qualify for the Olympics: the 2011 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD) and 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD).