USA Women's Senior National Team Smokes Cubans 82-48

February 26, 2004  •  Havana, Cuba  •  Box Score


Catching a Board
Tamika Catchings has been strong on the glass for the USA against Cuba (Photo: Angel Yu)

In the final contest of the three-game series between the 2004 USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team (3-0) and Cuba (0-3), the U.S. overpowered Cuba for the third time in as many nights and came away with an 82-48 victory on Thursday evening. The contest, played at the Coliseo De La Ciudad Deportiva in Havana, Cuba, saw Tina Thompson (Houston Comets) post a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds and Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles Sparks) contribute 14 to lead the U.S. to the victory.

"I'm really proud of the USA team for how they played during these three games," said USA and Houston Comets head coach Van Chancellor, who is now 17-0 as a USA Basketball head coach. "We were supposed to be the dominant team and I thought we were. The major difference between these two basketball teams is that we're very experienced and they're very young. The games went about the way I thought they would, due to our experience and the fact that Cuba's (Yamilet Martinez) out (injury). But at this point in time I'm really happy with the USA Basketball team. We're where I thought we would be, both offensively and defensively right now. I'm very, very pleased."

Cuba, which shot poorly the first two games, came out shooting well and at 4:39 the USA found itself in unfamiliar territory, trailing 15-8. However, Shannon Johnson (San Antonio Silver Stars) drove to the basket at 4:14 and followed that up on the USA's ensuing possession with a 3-pointer to jump-start the USA's offense. Receiving points from four different players, while turning up its defensive intensity and forcing Cuba into poor shot selection, the United States closed the first quarter back on top, 21-15. During the run, and with Cuba ahead 15-13, Katie Smith (Minnesota Lynx) stole the ball and passed it off to Thompson, who tied the game at 15 apiece. Then Smith put the Americans in the lead for good with a layup at 12:40.

"They came out very aggressively at the beginning of the game, they were very physical," said Thompson. "They made a lot of shots and were really on top of their game. I think we kind of got out of our game a little bit. But we recovered in the second quarter and started playing a lot smoother. After that, we were on our way to victory."

The game remained a tight affair midway through the second quarter and with 4:06 to play before halftime, Cuba trailed by just four, 27-23. This time it was Tamika Catchings' (Indiana Fever) turn to spark a run. She started it off with a three, followed by sinking three of four free throws in a 10-2 run that closed the half with the United States ahead 40-25.

With the scoreboard showing 42-30 at 5:32, Thompson knocked down a 3-pointer to start a 20-2 run that put the game away after three quarters, 64-32. The key to the USA's third-quarter dominance was its defense, which forced Cuba into shooting just 1-of-13 from the floor. In contrast, the red, white and blue made 6-of-13 from the field and was a perfect 11-of-11 from the line.

The North Americans sailed through the fourth quarter, outscoring Cuba 18-16, for the win.

In addition to Leslie and Thompson's combined 28 points, the USA's effort was aided by 10 points apiece from Johnson and Catchings. Leslie also had nine rebounds and Sheryl Swoopes (Houston Comets) passed off for five assists to go with her eight points.

Cuban veteran Licet Castillo scored a game high 16 points.

The U.S. outrebounded Cuba 48-31, but 13 of Cuba's rebounds came on the offensive end compared to four by the USA. Cuba's defense forced 24 U.S. turnovers and had 14 of its own. The USA again shot well from the field and after making 66.7 percent (14-21 FGs) from the floor in the first half, closed the game shooting 56.0 percent (28-50 FGs), and held Cuba to just 27.8 percent (20-72 FGs) shooting on the night.

USA Basketball announced that the 2004 USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team will prepare for the 2004 Athens Olympics with three separate training sessions. Following the conclusion of the Feb. 19-27 training and competition, the U.S. will take two weeks off before competing in Europe March 18-28. The final training session will be held April 2-13 in the United States. Both the European and domestic tour sites will be announced at a later date. Each training camp will feature available core group members as well as other selected players who will compete for one of the USA Senior National Team's final three roster positions. The Olympics will be held August 13-29.

The U.S. squad is competing with just 11 players on the Cuba trip. DeLisha Milton-Jones (Los Angeles Sparks) tore the ACL in her right knee on Feb. 22 and did not travel with the squad.

Additional 2004 USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team Quotes

VAN CHANCELLOR, Houston Comets
Tonight Tina Thompson came in and rebounded the ball well when Lisa Leslie got into foul trouble and Ruth Riley really impressed me tonight.

On the conclusion of the first training camp: I feel good about it, I feel really good. It's hard to get into a training camp and accomplish everything you set out to accomplish. But I felt we did that. We had a good situation here, we were able to play the young players some, had a chance for some great evaluations (of them). It makes the job really tough, but I really liked where we were with who we got to see when we got to see them. We got a chance to play together, this is just step one with where we're trying to go. We still have a lot of steps to go before the Olympics, but I'm really pleased with step one.

TAMIKA CATCHINGS, Indiana Pacers
On tonight's game: We came out kind of slow, but after the half we picked it up. We were able to execute better offensively, get back better on our transition defense and that was probably the biggest difference in the game.

On the training camp: I think it helped give us a little vision as far as what players to keep, what players to play with each other. Everybody came in ready to go, we had a great training camp and I think we all learned a lot.

LISA LESLIE, Los Angeles Sparks
On the trip overall: I've enjoyed myself here. I wish we could come here more often. But the people have been great. From the time we arrived, at the hotel, the food, the people in general and the country is very beautiful.

On tonight's game: They don't have Yamilet (Martinez), she's a great post player. She's very good, she's one of the best posts in the world. It hurt the Cuban team not having her out there. She has a huge presence inside and she defends me, she gives me more of a challenge. But overall they play hard, they worked hard and got better everyday.

 




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