USA Women Fall To Argentina 58-55 In First Game Of 2011 Pan American Games
Oct. 21, 2011 • Guadalajara, Mexico
In a game that featured six lead changes in the fourth quarter alone, the USA Women (0-1) fell to Argentina (1-0) 58-55 in its opening contest of the 2011 Pan American Games on Oct. 21 at the CODE Dome in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Despite a team-high 18 points, four blocked shots and a U.S. women’s Pan American Games record 21 rebounds from Breanna Stewart (Cicero-North Syracuse H.S./North Syracuse, N.Y.), who is just the second U.S. women’s high school basketball player to represent her country in the Pan American Games, the USA was unable to capitalize on its opportunities in the game’s final minute and fell short by just three points.
“I think we played very, very hard, and it was an extremely physical game,” said USA head coach Ceal Barry. “All throughout, I thought we really fought hard.”
Katelan Redmon (Gonzaga/Spokane, Wash.) added 16 points and eight rebounds, while Valencia McFarland (Mississippi/Edwards, Miss.), playing her 20th birthday, collected seven steals for another U.S. women’s Pan American Games single-game high.
“I think we started out really strong, and then we let their pressure get the best of us,” Redmon said. “We turned the ball over, we weren't playing our game and we just kind of gave it away to them in the second quarter. We fought hard in the third and fourth quarters, but we ran out of time.”
The USA started strong and held Argentina scoreless from the field until 2:08 in the first period, when the South Americans sank a bucket to cut the USA’s lead to 14-3. The U.S. defense did not let up, however, allowing just one more made basket to take a 19-5 lead after the first quarter.
While the box score reads just six turnovers overall for the Americans, the USA coughed up the ball nine times in the first 12 minutes of the game alone, including the first two possessions of the second quarter. The USA maintained control of the game’s momentum until 5:02, however, when Melissa Gretter, who finished with a game-high 21 points, sank back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the U.S. advantage to five points, 22-17, and the USA called its first timeout.
“I think we settled a little bit,” said Stewart, who shot 12-of-14 from the free throw line. “We probably thought we were up and it would be an easy game, but internationally teams never give up. They are always fighting even if they are down by 40 points.”
Christine Flores (Missouri/San Antonio, Texas) sank two free throws after the break, followed by a point from the charity stripe from Argentina, before Argentina cut the deficit to four points, 24-20, when it scored off of an inbounds play to just beat the halftime buzzer.
Argentina’s largest run of the game, a 9-0 spurt, stretched form the end of the first half to the first three minutes of the third quarter, capturing a 27-24 lead with two free throws at 7:13.
The USA fought its way back to a 30-29 advantage thanks to two scores from McFarland and one from Shante Evans (Hofstra/West Chester, Pa.) before Argentina responded once again from deep. Back-to-back three pointers put Argentina up 35-30 at 3:50. Each team tallied seven more points in the period before the buzzer sounded on the third quarter with the USA trailing 42-37.
“They hit big threes in the third and fourth quarter,” Barry said. “We weren't aggressive enough on getting out of double screens, and I thought that was a big difference; it was a momentum swinger. I don't know how many threes they had in the second half, but it's hard to make up the difference when you are scoring two points and giving up threes.”
Four U.S. player combined for seven points in the first three minutes of the final stanza, giving the USA a 44-42 lead off of a score from Marissa Kastanek (North Carolina State/Lincoln, Neb.) at 7:13. It was the first of six lead changes in the stanza, and Argentina answered right back with a 3-pointer to make it 45-44. Stewart scored an offensive rebound and sank two free throws to force an Argentine timeout at 5:01 with the USA up 48-45. Another three from Gretter at 2:41 gave Argentina a 50-49 lead, while Redmon drove the lane for two points at 2:20. Gretter once again collected three points, this time the old-fashioned way to put Argentina back on top 53-51 at 1:58. The USA tied it up, 53-53, with a score from Tavelyn James (Eastern Michigan/Detroit, Mich.) before another long ball and a free throw from Argentina gave their side a 57-53 lead.
Evans pulled the USA within two points, 57-55, with a basket at 49.1, but that was the last time the USA would score. Argentina missed its next shot, but collected an offensive rebound to continue to run out the clock. Stewart pressured the ball and forced a back court violation at 12.3 seconds, and the USA called a timeout, down by two points with possession of the ball. The USA missed a layup opportunity before fouling Argentina, which sank one of two free throws to make it 58-55. Argentina missed its second free throw, but the USA’s outlet pass was disrupted as the buzzer sounded on the game.
“We just need to learn from what we did wrong, and then move on and forget about this game,” Redmon said. “We can't hang our heads. We need to be thinking about Puerto Rico.”
The USA next will take on Puerto Rico at 5:30 p.m. (times listed are Central Daylight Time, which is -1 hour from Eastern Daylight Time) on Oct. 22, before closing out preliminary round group play against host Mexico at 8 p.m. on Oct. 23.
The top two finishing teams from each preliminary round group advance to the medal semifinals, while the third and fourth place teams will play out for 5th-8th place. The semifinals will be played on Oct. 24, and the finals will take place on Oct. 25.
Assisting on the USA sideline are Jennifer Gillom and Debbie Ryan.
In today’s other games, Brazil (1-0 ) topped Canada (0-1) 78-53 and Colombia (1-0) beat Jamaica (0-1) 83-26 in Group B play, while host Mexico (0-0) takes on Puerto Rico (0-0) in tonight’s 8 p.m. game.