USA Women’s National Team Falls To Ros Casares Valencia 80-76
Valencia, Spain • Oct. 5, 2011
Despite receiving 22 points from Brittney Griner (Baylor University), the 2011 USA Basketball Women’s National Team (2-1) fell behind by as many as 15 points in the second half and was unable to bridge the gap before time expired, falling to host Ros Casares Valencia 80-76 on Wednesday night at the Fuente San Luis Municipal Arena in Valencia, Spain.
Griner, who scored 16 of her points in the second half, also contributed eight rebounds and three blocked shots. Renee Montgomery (Connecticut Sun) and Sophia Young (San Antonio Silver Stars) scored 12 points apiece, while Swin Cash (Seattle Storm) added 11 points and seven rebounds, and Cappie Pondexter (New York Liberty) dished out six assists.
“Every time they got me the ball, I would face them, post up strong, take my time,” said Griner of her play in the second half. “As far as guarding them in the second half, I just tried to beat them to the spot and alter their shot instead of running at them as they run past me.”
“The way we started the game, we put ourselves in a hole,” said Geno Auriemma, 2009-12 USA National Team and University of Connecticut head coach. “We were climbing uphill right from the beginning because of some questionable shot selection on our part and a couple mistakes we made defensively. And, they’re a really, really good team playing on their home floor.
“Brittney, offensively, was really, really good again,” Auriemma added. “She’s been really good every game. Defensively, playing against somebody like Ann Wauters is not easy. It’s not easy for an experienced pro, much less a kid who’s never played international basketball before. I think she learned a lot, because she saw something in guarding Ann Wauters that she hasn’t seen in two years of guarding anybody in college.”
Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun) fouled out of the game with seven points and five boards in 21 minutes. Asjha Jones (Connecticut Sun), who missed the USA’s first two exhibition games in Europe due to a sore right knee, was also in foul trouble much of the game and had four points and four boards in 10 minutes; while Danielle Robinson (San Antonio Silver Stars), who leaves the U.S. squad to join her European club tomorrow, scored four points against Ros Casares and averaged 5.0 points a game during her three-game stint with the USA team.
The squad will next face 2011 Czech league champion ZVVZ-USK Prague in the Czech Republic on Oct. 8; and close out the tour in Hungary against Hungarian Cup and Hungarian Championship winners UNIQA-Euroleasing Sopron on Oct. 9.
Ros, which forced the U.S. into seven turnovers in the first quarter, broke an 8-8 tie with an 11-2 run in the first period to go up 19-10 at 3:14. By the end of the quarter, the lead was up to nine points, 25-16.
Isabelle Yacoubou, who was 11-of-12 for the night from the charity stripe and finished with 15 points, swished in a perfect
6-of-6 to help the hosts expand their lead to the largest of the first half And with 8:41 to play in the first half Ros was up 31-19.
“I thought today we came out a little bit dead, a little bit slow, so they came out on top of us throughout the beginning of the game and the second half,” said Young. “That’s something that we have to learn. We have to start the game better, whether it’s the beginning of the game or going into the second half of the game.”
However, behind four points from Young and a pair of threes from Montgomery, the USA got back on track and with 5:01 on the clock, knotted the score at 33-all. By halftime the USA trailed by just two points, 41-39.
In the first half alone, Ros Casares hit a near-perfect 13-of-14 from the line, while the U.S. only made three of its tries. Additionally, at halftime Charles and Jones, who played just seven and nine minutes in the first half, respectively, each had three fouls to their detriment.
Converting on just one of its first nine possessions, the third quarter started off poorly for the U.S., which had three turnovers in the first four minutes. Meanwhile, Ros Casares strung together 14 straight points to take a 55-41 lead at 5:17. A minute later, following Griner’s first bucket of the second half, the Czech Republic’s Jana Vesela knocked down a 3-pointer to give her side its largest lead of the game, 58-43, with 3:15 to play in the third.
“The first five minutes of the third quarter were exactly like the first five minutes of the game, it seemed like,” said Auriemma. “Quick shots, people getting way ahead of ourselves, not wanting to make the next pass, make the next cut. Everybody was in a hurry to score and I thought that and the turnovers, we must have had four or five turnovers in that stretch. They’re such a good team offensively. They can score from anywhere on the floor, so if you don’t get a quality possession every time down the floor, they’re gonna get one. You know that for sure.”
The USA outscored the Spain squad 8-2 over the final 2:50 of the period and with 10 minutes to play, the score was 60-51, Ros Casares.
However, as it had been throughout the game, each time the U.S. made a comeback attempt, Ros Casares held the Americans off and with 6:50 to play upped its lead again to double digits, 70-57. With 3:05 to go, Ros still held a 12-point, 77-65, advantage. The USA attempted one final push and scored eight straight points, including six from Griner, to pull to within four points, 77-73, with 38 seconds left. After Ros made one of two from the line on its next possession, Montgomery was called for a technical. Wauters made both tries from the line and the Spanish club got the ball back with 28 seconds to play to ice the win.
The U.S., which led briefly in the opening minutes, and tied the game six times, edged Ros on the glass 38-37. However, Ros outshot the Americans 46.7 percent (28-60 FGs) to 43.7 percent (31-71 FGs) from the floor and was sent to the line, making 21 points on 24 attempts. The U.S., in contrast, only got 8-of-12 from the charity stripe tonight.
While the USA’s European tour games are not televised in the U.S., fans can get in-game updates via USA Basketball’s Facebook and Twitter accounts at facebook.com/usabasketball and twitter.com/usabasketball, respectively.
Doug Bruno (DePaul University) and Jennifer Gillom, who will also serve as an assistant coach for the 2011 USA Pan American Games Team, are assisting Auriemma and the USA National Team during its 2011 European tour.