USA Women Battle Back For 67-59 Win Over MiZo PVSK

– Double-Double Efforts Put In By Swin Cash, Tina Thompson –

March 27, 2004  • Pecs, Hungary •  Box Score
USA head coach Van Chancellor led his American squad to its eighth consecutive victory after posting a 67-59 victory over MiZo Pecsi VSK.

After falling behind by 12 points in the first quarter, the 2004 USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team (8-0) used the next two quarters to claw back and the fourth quarter to pull away for a hard fought 67-59 victory over 2004 EuroLeague Final Four competitor MiZo Pecsi VSK Saturday night. Tina Thompson (Houston Comets) and Swin Cash (Detroit Shock) powered the USA, which held a huge advantage on the glass (50-17), to the win with double-doubles of 27 points and 12 rebounds, and 13 points and 12 rebounds, respectively, in Pecs, Hungary.

The U.S. will close out its six-game 2004 European Tour on Sunday against the Hungary National Team in Budapest at 7:00 p.m. (local time).

"We played a very good basketball team tonight," said USA and Houston Comets head coach Van Chancellor, who is being assisted on the sidelines by Anne Donovan (Seattle Storm). "They were very difficult for us to defeat, this team is very, very good. The USA needed a challenge like this and we got one tonight. We needed to see what we were made out of and that's what we did. We came to Europe to play the European style of basketball, teams that play outside, teams as good as this one. And a game like this is really good for us. When the score was 18-9 and we couldn't find even one thing that could stop them from scoring, I thought the USA was in deep trouble. But then we made some defensive changes, started to switch, and that helped us get back.

"We had two young players (Swin Cash, Michelle Snow) really step up tonight, they had 21 rebounds between them. They came in, this has been a long trip with a lot of traveling and you need your young players to be able to play like this. I don't want to overlook the fact that Tina Thompson had 27 points and 12 rebounds, but that's what we expect her to do."

"They are a very well coached team," said Cash. "They play extremely well together, all the players one through five shot the ball from the inside and outside. They were really aggressive all night long. They didn't back down from us. But I think we wore them down in the end. That's one thing the USA team has always been known for, they're going to play you hard for the whole 40 minutes. Even though we got down early we still fought back."

The hosts shot a barrage of 3-pointers to kick off the game, two coming from their 6-0 forward Andrea Karolyi, and at 5:54 held a 16-7 lead. The U.S., which had four turnovers in the first quarter and shot 3-of-8 to start the game, and already in unfamiliar territory of trailing, found itself down by 12 points, 22-10, at 2:22. That was the largest deficit the Americans had to make up and at the close the first quarter, the US lagged 26-15.

Turning up their defensive intensity in the second quarter, the U.S. forced MiZo into 3-for-18 shooting (16.7 percent). Shannon Johnson (San Antonio Silver Stars) kicked off the second quarter fight with a pair of free throws at 9:37. Following a Johnson drive at 8:44, Ildiko Szakacs got her team's first points of the quarter at 8:32 (28-19). Continuing to pressure and crash the boards, Cash converted an offensive carom into two points and following a MiZo miss, Johnson sprinted coast-to-coast for an uncontested layup and at 7:28 the USA cut it to five points, 28-23.

Johnson fed Thompson three times for the USA's first eight points in a 10-3 drive that tied the game at 33 apiece with 3:00 to go before half. After MiZo's Annamaria Keller made one of two tries from the stripe, the United States took the lead for good 35-34 on a Thompson putback. The United States closed the book on the first half with a 38-35 edge.

The USA scored the first two field goals of the third quarter to go up 42-35 at 8:03, but the two squads played evenly the rest of the quarter and at the end of three quarters it was still a tight affair with the USA leading 53-48.

Cash nabbed an errant pass and made the layup to spark a 12-2 push by the USA. The scoring spree ended with a pair of Katie Smith (Minnesota Lynx) 3-pointers and the U.S. ahead 65-50 at 4:33. The Hungarian squad outscored the US 9-2 over the final minutes, but the USA's fourth quarter drive was too much to overcome as the U.S. collected the win.

In addition to Cash and Thompson, the USA's effort was aided by 12 points from Johnson and 11 from Katie Smith. Michelle Snow (Houston Comets) added nine rebounds and Johnson was credited with seven assists.

The U.S., which normally shoots better than 50 percent from the field, was held to 43.5 percent (27-62 FGs), but forced MiZo PVSK into just 33.3 percent (22-66 FGs). The game's biggest difference was on the glass, where the US, which scored 34 points in the paint, had 28 offensive rebounds that resulted in 21 points.

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 US 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 US 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-Jones (Los Angeles Sparks), who tore the ACL in her right knee on Feb. 22; Dawn Staley (Charlotte Sting), who is the head coach at 2004 NCAA Tournament competitor Temple University; and Sheryl Swoopes (Houston Comets), who played the first two games in Poland but returned to the US for a prior commitment. Further, the US 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.


Additional Quotes:

SWIN CASH, Detroit Shock
What's the biggest difference between the European and American styles of basketball? In Europe, a lot of the players are very skilled fundamentally. They can shoot outside, play inside. The players one through five can do a lot of different things.

General thoughts on the game: It was a good contest. They really gave us a run for our money. They had a lot of talent and are definitely one of the better shooting teams we've played.

SHANNON JOHNSON, San Antonio Silver Stars
General thoughts on the game: We knew they were a great shooting team. A lot of teams in Europe are great shooters. They came out on fire. But I thought we did a great job of keeping our composure. In the first quarter we felt that was their best shot and we took it, but then in the other three quarters we came out and played hard. Just kept playing every minute of the clock, didn't let the refs bother us, didn't let their shots bother us. We kept our composure and that's one thing that we need to do when we go to Greece this summer.
On the younger players stepping up: That shows about USA Basketball, how far we've come as far as having younger players being very effective in the big games. They stepped up and worked hard. Michelle (Snow) and (Swin) Cash really worked hard on the boards, got us second shots and we were getting the ball to people who could put the ball in the basket. Again Tina (Thompson) showed her dominance out there, playing hard, and we got the ball to her. One of the good things about this team is that we can get the ball to players who can get the ball in the hole for us.

MICHELLE SNOW, Houston Comets
What's the biggest difference between the European and American styles of basketball? I agree with Swin (Cash). I think players one through five can play any position so you end up having guards posting, post players shooting the three. It makes you play defense the way you're not used to playing. It's a whole new way of looking at basketball.

On the game in general: I thought it was a great test for us. We got down early and we're not used to being down. The USA is used to taking control from the get go. We were down and showed a lot of heart and determination to pull together. We had contributions from everybody. Everybody who came in helped, and it showed, from the starters to the bench. We also got to see the European style of play, which is post players shooting the threes, their guards were posting. We had to switch. I was on the guards some, and our point guard had to play the young lady who was 6-6. So it was interesting to see how we came together as a team for the win.

What was it that allowed the Hungarian squad to jump out on you? The guards got us from the outside. We had a hand up, but we're not used to people being a foot or a foot and a half behind the 3-point line and pulling up with a hand in their face. We just had to make them put the ball on the floor. We also had to get through those screens. Once we decided to switch everything, the tempo of the game changed and we slowed down their 3-point shots.

TINA THOMPSON, Houston Comets
What was it that allowed the Hungarian squad to jump out on you? We weren't very familiar with their offense and their personnel. They executed really well. But once we got familiar with what they were doing, we were able to recover.



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