USA Women's National Team Cancels Czechs 85-69
March 23, 2004 Brno, Czech Republic Box Score
Powered by 30 points from Tina Thompson (Houston Comets), the 2004 USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team (6-0) stopped a late surge by the Czech Republic and came away with a hard fought 85-69 victory on Tuesday evening in Brno, Czech Republic. Thompson combined with Shannon Johnson (San Antonio Silver Stars), who had 17 points and six assists, for 43.5 percent of the USA's scoring output.
"The Czech team is very good offensively and they were very hard for us to guard," said USA and Houston Comets head coach Van Chancellor, who is being assisted on the sidelines by Anne Donovan (Seattle Storm). "I know they are missing some players, but the ones they have here are very good. But Tina Thompson and Shannon Johnson played extremely well for the USA and I'm very pleased with how well they played against such a good team. I thought this team and the Russian National Team (in the 2002 World Championship) are both very, very difficult to defend, very difficult to stop from scoring."
"They're a really good team, they're a lot bigger than we are," said Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever). "They came out and really attacked us offensively and defensively. Defensively I think they had a pretty good game plan. The two lapses they had (on defense) were that they couldn't stop Pee Wee (Shannon Johnson) and they couldn't stop Tina (Thompson)."
Playing against 2003 European Championship silver medalists, also without the services of its top player and two others from the European Championship, the United States won every quarter. However, it was not easy sailing for the red, white and blue.
In a see-saw of a first quarter that saw nine lead changes and a pair of knotted scores, Katie Smith (Minnesota Lynx) netted a 3-pointer at the buzzer to put an end to the first period with the U.S. on top 22-21. The U.S. never again trailed.
In the second quarter the U.S. went up 29-23 at 5:36, and 38-29 at 1:57 on a coast-to-coast bucket by Shannon Johnson (San Antonio Silver Stars), but could not shake the Czechs and at halftime the U.S. held a 40-33 lead.
While the U.S. never again trailed after the end of the first quarter, the Czechs tied the game at 42-42 with 6:49 to go in the third quarter after kicking-off the second half with a 9-2 push. However, the U.S. answered back with a 14-2 run that was bookended by a 3-pointer each from Thompson and USA hopeful and newcomer Deanna Nolan (Detroit Shock) that ended with the United States on top 56-44 at 3:33. But again the Czechs answered and cut the gap to eight, 60-52, at the end of three.
"Late in the fourt quarter we were able to get the ball to Tina Thompson," said Chancellor. "And I thought her scoring, with about five minutes to go, was the difference in the game."
Opening the fourth quarter with a pair of free throws, the Czechs then turned to Michaela Uhrova, who nailed a trio of treys on three of their next four possessions to narrow the gap to 68-63 with 6:19 to play. Thompson answered with a three of her own, and scored a total of 10 straight points for the Americans, to spur a 17-4 USA drive. The run was capped by a Katie Smith 3-pointer with 38 seconds to go and the game safely away 85-67. Additionally, after a Czech field goal at 4:35 (75-67), the United States held its opponents scoreless until the last second of the game when Uhrova got the contest's final basket.
While Johnson and Thompson were the only two players in double digits for the U.S., Katie Smith finished with nine points and Nolan had seven.
The Czechs were paced by 17 points from Eva Viteckova, Uhrova finished with 11 and Iva Vecerova scored 10.
The United States shot 51.5 percent (34-66 FGs) from the field, while holding the Czechs to 41.8 percent (23-55), and edged the hosts 25-24 in the rebounding column. In what was a very tight and physical contest for the defense, there were 32 whistles blown, 20 against the U.S. which send the Czechs to the line for 20 tries.
The United States continues play March 24 in Brno in the second game
against the Czech Republic at at 5:00 p.m. (all game times local / six
hours ahead of EST). The U.S. will face another 2004 Final Four advancing
team, MiZo Pecsi VSK in Pecs, Hungary, on March 27 at 6:00 p.m., before
capping its European Tour against Hungary in Budapest on March 28 at
Opening its spring training with a sweep of a three-game series versus Cuba in Havana Feb. 24-26, following its Feb. 19-27 European Tour, the USA will take a short break before gathering April 2-13 for a previously announced four-game domestic tour that will see the U.S. compete in New Orleans, La. (April 3), Denver (April 9), Lubbock, Texas (April 12) and 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 in Europe without its All-World center Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles Sparks), who had a prior commitment; DeLisha Milton (Los Angeles Sparks), who tore the ACL in her right knee on Feb. 22; and Dawn Staley (Charlotte Sting), who is the head coach at 2004 NCAA Tournament competitor Temple University. Further, the U.S. team is playing with 10 on its roster after Tari Phillips (New York Liberty) fractured the fourth metacarpal in her left hand and did not compete against Lotos VBW Clima, nor will she play in the USA's final European Tour games, while Nikki Teasley (Los Angeles Sparks), who was slated to join the squad in the Czech Republic, was unable to travel to Europe due to personal matters.
USA head coach VAN CHANCELLOR, Houston Comets
TAMIKA CATCHINGS, Indiana Fever
On the team's performance overall, considering all the newcomers:'
SHANNON JOHNSON, San Antonio Silver Stars
The good thing about it is that in some games you're able to get to the basket and in other games you're not able to do so much. But tonight we were able to get to the basket and find people and the good thing about it is that we have people who can knock their shots down. I thought we played as a very good team tonight, that was a team win. It doesn't matter who scored the most, the most important thing is that we can come together and see what different options we have throughout the game.
On playing the Czech Republic again tomorrow night:
DEANNA NOLAN, Detroit Shock
Have the rest of the players been helping you with the plays?
What was it like getting out there for the first time in a USA Basketball
TINA THOMPSON, Houston Comets
On playing the Czech Republic again tomorrow night: