USA Women Are A Perfect 10 After 105-58 Victory Over Collegians

April 3 , 2004  • New Orleans, Louisiana •  Box Score

Playing a friendly exhibition game against the 2004 WBCA College All-Stars, the 2004 USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team upped its record to a perfect 10-0 after running away with a 105-58 victory at Tulane University's Fogelman Arena on Saturday night in New Orleans, La. The USA's balanced scoring attack saw six players score no less than 10 points, including a game high of 23 from Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles Sparks).

"I was really pleased with our team tonight," said USA and Houston Comets head coach Van Chancellor, who is being assisted on the sidelines by Anne Donovan (Seattle Storm). "We've been overseas and haven't played with this group of players at all. We had one hour earlier today together with these players and came out tonight and played so well together. I thought our passing, our teamwork was unbelievable. To pass the ball, to give it up to their teammates, it's an unselfish group. You look at halftime, we had about 23 baskets and 16 assists. That's pretty good. The most amazing thing about this team is that they come to play every night, they play with each other and give up the ball (to each other)."

As expected, the exhibition was not as much of a contest, but gave the 3,213 fans some great plays on both ends to cheer about.

The USA sprinted out to a 13-5 lead, with six points coming from Leslie. Getting over their shock and awe of competing against the USA Senior National Team, the collegians received four points from 2001 USA Junior World Championship team member Stacey Stephens (Texas) and closed to 19-15 with 1:57 to play in the first. But that was as close as the game would come.

"I thought they were really good," said Tina Thompson (Houston Comets). They were very aggressive. They weren't really intimidated, which is a great thing. But I thought that sometimes they were overly aggressive and that kind of got them out of their game. At one point they settled down and were able to get their shots and get into their comfort zone. But for awhile the game got a little messy out there. They are all going to do well in the WNBA. It might take a little time for some of them, but for the most part this draft is going to be really strong. They displayed a lot of talent out there. It's exciting to see what they're going to do in their rookie season. "

Competing with 10 players on the roster, Chancellor sent in his bench, which put the game away in a 20-6 scoring spree that extended to the 6:21 mark in the second quarter. The drive, which gave the USA a commanding 39-19 lead, was bookended by a pair of Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) 3-pointers and included five points from Swin Cash (Detroit Shock) and a total of eight from Catchings.

The starters returned and, following four points from the collegians, put the game out of reach, 51-27, with 2:38 remaining in the first half. By halftime the USA was on top 57-32, with the U.S. scoring more in the second quarter (33) than the WBCA squad had in the half.

There were no surprises in the second half, which saw the veterans outscore the collegians 20-17 in the third quarter and 28-9 in the fourth.

Returning to the floor for the first time since coaching the Temple University (Pa.) Owls to the NCAA Tournament, Dawn Staley (Charlotte Sting), who hasn't played a game of five-on-five since the end of the 2003 WNBA season.

In addition to Leslie, who had 12 points by the midway buzzer and shot 10-of-13 on the night, Cash scored 15 points and a game high 10 rebounds, Catchings and Natalie Williams (Indiana Fever) each pitched in 14, Katie Smith (Minnesota Lynx) notched 13 and Thompson tossed in 10 points. Shannon Johnson (San Antonio Silver Stars) and Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) passed off for seven and six of the USA's 33 assists, respectively, while Sheryl Swoopes (Houston Comets) was credited with four steals.

The WBCA All-Stars were led by 2001 USA Junior World Championship Team member Shameka Christon (Arkansas) with 12 points and 2001 USA World University Games Team member Shereka Wright (Purdue) had nine points. 2003 USA World Championship For Young Women Team member Nicole Ohlde (Kansas State) had a team best six rebounds.

The overpowering experienced U.S. squad shot a stellar 56.3 percent (45-80 FGs) from the field, while limiting the collegians, who shot a chilling 17.6 percent (6-34 FGs) in the second half, to just 24.3 percent (18-74 FGs) on the night. However, the rebounding was much closer as the U.S. edged the WBCA All-Stars 51-47 on the glass. The teamwork the USA squad displayed was highlighted by 33 assists on 45 field goals.

The U.S. will remain in New Orleans through April 7 before continuing its domestic tour in Denver, Colo., where it will play the first of a three-game series against the Japan National Team on April 9 at Denver University's Magness Arena at 7:00 p.m. The U.S. and Japan will then play on April 12 at 7:00 p.m. at Texas Tech University's United Spirit Center and the series will come to a close with a 7:30 p.m. contest in Houston at Toyota Center.

Tonight's game marked the third time a USA Senior National Team has faced off against a group of WBCA College All-Stars.

On April 6, 1996 the USA defeated a collegiate squad 92-57 in Atlanta, Ga. The WBCA team featured Smith, a member of the senior team since the 1998 World Championship. Starting for the collegians, Smith notched seven points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal in 16 minutes of action. Starting for the red, white and blue, Leslie posted a double-double of 28 points and 13 rebounds, while adding two assists, one block and a pair of steals and Staley passed off a game high six assists, while adding two rebounds and a steal. Swoopes checked in for seven points, three rebounds, three assists and a game high five steals.

On March 30, 2002, the U.S. upended the WBCA collegiate team 100-59 as Leslie again topped all scorers with 30 points and added 10 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and four steals. Smith, playing on the U.S. side this time, notched 11 points, three assists and two steals after returning from Europe a day earlier to join up with the USA team. Swoopes also posted a double-digit scoring effort with 10 points. Members of the 2004 squad who also played in ‘02 included Johnson (9 points, 4 assists) and Staley (1 assist, 1 steal).

Opening its spring training with a sweep of a three-game series versus Cuba in Havana Feb. 24-26, the U.S. then claimed a 6-0 record against top European professional and national teams Feb. 19-28. Reconvening in New Orleans for today's game, the U.S. will next compete a trio of contests against the Japan National Team, Olympic qualifiers and 2004 Asia Championship silver medalists. The USA-Japan series will get started in Denver (April 9), before moving to Lubbock, Texas (April 12) and closing the tour in Houston (April 13). Upon the conclusion of its April training, the U.S. team members will break for the WNBA season and reconvene on Aug. 3 to complete their pre-Olympic training at sites to be announced.

The U.S. squad is competing currently without DeLisha Milton-Jones (Los Angeles Sparks), who tore the ACL in her right knee on Feb. 22. USA team hopeful Diana Taurasi (Connecticut), who was listed on both the USA and WBCA All-Stars roster, will join the squad upon the completion of her collegiate career.

Additional Quotes:

How was it being out here with all eight available core members?
It was good. It's always good to have everyone together. I really enjoyed playing with them at the (2002) World Championship and it's been kind of weird not having Dawn (Staley) here. And then not having Sheryl (Swoopes) and Lisa (Leslie) in Europe. It's great coming back and having them here, working the next couple of days in practice and then playing our next games.

KATIE SMITH, Minnesota Lynx
You were on the WBCA College All-Star team in 1996, playing against the 1995-96 USA Women's National Team, what do you think the collegians felt out there?
Excited, but also nervous. A lot of them probably grew up watching a lot of us. A little bit of everything. You have a lot of pride and want to play well. They'll be in the league next year and this is a good measuring stick to see where they are. I think it's a little nerves, a little excitement.

Is it much better being on the USA side?
(Laughs) Yes, it's tough. When we did it in ‘96, they were a machine. It was definitely tough, but it's definitely nice to be on the other end.

How good was it to have everyone together again, and have Dawn Staley join for the first time?
It was nice. Just personality-wise, with Dawn, Lisa (Leslie) and Swoopes being here now. It's a really good group. We have a great chemistry for not being together all that much. I think that comes from playing together on past teams, it's really easy to get back, get going and play basketball. Because we are all about playing the game and winning. That makes things easy.

DAWN STALEY, Charlotte Sting
How was it for you, getting back on the court again as a player for the first time in months?
It was great. I really enjoyed myself getting back into the swing of things. This is my first time playing five-on-five so I had to ease myself into it.

Was it fun getting back on the court with Lisa Leslie and the rest of the team?
Everybody, this whole USA Basketball concept where we share the basketball, the whole comradery, the relationships, the competitiveness, the ability to play as a team. I love it and it's the reason I keep coming back.

TINA THOMPSON, Houston Comets
How was it having Dawn Staley back on the court with the team?
It was really good. Dawn is such a great leader and she's done this so many times. She has an unbelievable knowledge of the game and a sense of humor that's even bigger. So to have her back is really great, as well as Lisa (Leslie) and Sheryl (Swoopes), their leadership is very important to this team. Having them back as well makes a big difference.

What was it like getting back on the court in a USA Basketball jersey for the first time in a year and a half?
I really enjoyed playing again with this team. It's fun, it's great to go out there and know that whoever it goes to, it's going to be a great choice. It's a lot of fun and I'm glad to be back.

What did you think about the college team?
I think the players coming into the league are great. They're great athletes, they're very quick and I thought we did a great job against them. We need to refine our defense some, we allowed them to get too many rebounds. But for me, personally, I thought it was great. This was the first time we've been together in a week and it was my first time being together with them overall, we only had a shoot around today, and I felt really good out there.





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