May 13, 2012
SEATTLE (courtesy USA Basketball) - Including five players that scored in double-digits, the 2012 USA Women’s National Team (1-0) was impressive in its 100-62 exhibition win over China on Saturday night at KeyArena in Seattle, Wash. Led by 19 points from Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), the U.S. compiled a 35-17 advantage on the glass, which led to 60 points in the paint compared to China’s 20, and shot 60.9 percent from the field (42-69 FGs).
Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) added 15 points, Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky) finished with 12 points and seven rebounds and Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks) and Swin Cash (Chicago Sky) each scored 10 points.
“When you’ve only had one practice with the team and this is our first game, it’s not going to look great,” said Geno Auriemma, USA and University of Connecticut head coach. “(China) is disciplined and (they) do their thing and make it difficult for us. I thought, like Sue (Bird) and Swin (Cash) said, the things that we wanted to accomplish – setting a tone for how this particular United States team is going to play and what we’re going to be about – I thought we did that.”
China put the game’s first points on the board, but a 3-pointer from Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) at 9:19 erased that deficit, and the USA never again trailed. China’s two 3-pointers in the last 1:35 of the first period helped it keep the gap to eight points, 29-21, after the first 10 minutes.
Catchings collected four of her five steals in the last 5:07 of second quarter, and all four led to layups during a 14-6 U.S. run that brought the score to 52-33 at halftime.
“I thought it was a great start for us,” Cash said. “Everyone came out with a lot of focus on what we wanted to get done and that was to try and build some chemistry. I thought we achieved that. We understand we have a ways to go, but this is a great first step.”
The USA went on to outscore China 26-16 in the third quarter and 22-13 in the fourth to bring the game to its final score. The USA reached 100 points with just 2.9 seconds remaining when Parker scored an alley-oop off of a pass from Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx).
China was led by 20 points from Zengyu Ma.
The USA will wrap up its first training camp of 2012 with a scrimmage against Japan at 10 a.m. (PDT) on May 12 before dispersing back to their WNBA teams.
“For me especially, it’s been great to have this training camp in Seattle,” said Sue Bird, who enters her 11th season with the Seattle Storm in 2012. “From a basketball standpoint, obviously we don’t have a lot of time so it’s really important to start making our identity. I think we did that. We’re definitely going to get better, but it was great start.”
The USA will gather again on July 14 in Washington, D.C., prior to an exhibition contests against Brazil on July 16. From there, the USA travels to face the Great Britain team in Manchester, England, on July 18, and then plays in a four-team tournament hosted by Turkey in Istanbul, July 21-24.
The Olympic Games women's basketball competition begins on July 28, and while the schedule is not yet finalized, the USA has been drawn into Group A and will face Angola, China and the first, second and fourth place finishing teams from the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in the preliminary round. The top four teams from each preliminary round group will advance to the Aug. 7 quarterfinals, with the winners playing in the semifinals on Aug. 9 and the medal games on Aug. 11.
Auriemma is assisted by DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno, 1988 Olympic gold medalist and Washington Mystics assistant coach Jennifer Gillom and Atlanta Dream head coach Marynell Meadors.