Not Starving For Offensive Efforts, USA Women Down Hungary 88-64 To Close Out European Tour Undefeated
Tina Thompson Again Leads The Attack With 21 Points
March 28, 2004 Budapest, Hungary Box Score
Backed by 21 points from Tina Thompson (Houston Comets) and 19 from reserve Swin Cash (Detroit Shock), the 2004 USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team (9-0) put the nail in the coffin in third quarter to close out its 2004 European Tour with an 88-64 victory over the Hungarian National Team in Budapest on Sunday night. The win upped the USA's record to 9-0 overall and 6-0 on the five-city, three-country tour.
"We wanted to establish ourselves in the third quarter because this is a young basketball team and we didn't want them to start thinking they can win," said USA and Houston Comets head coach Van Chancellor, who is being assisted on the sidelines by Anne Donovan (Seattle Storm). "And I thought we did that in the third quarter, we applied more pressure to them defensively and it paid off. Our goal was to play everybody about 20 minutes apiece, and we were able to do that with everyone contributing. I'm very happy with where the team is right now, we're way ahead of schedule. After all we've been through, all the travel and everything we've done in the last week, we got through it and I like where we're at."
Thompson scored 12 points in a first quarter that saw the U.S. run out to a 27-17 lead. An 8-2 spurt started the contest for the Americans and after another five points from Thompson in an 8-4 run, the U.S. found itself leading by 10, 16-6, just over six minutes into the game. By the end of the first quarter the gap was still 10 points, 27-17.
However, the United States, which was playing its sixth game in a fifth city in eight days, allowed Hungary to keep pace in the second quarter and the first half ended with the U.S. on top 43-33. Hungary shot 50.0 percent (17-34 FGs) in the first half overall and from 3-point (4-8 3pt FGs), while the Americans were just under that mark from the field at 48.0 percent (12-25 FGs) and hit a chilling 16.7 percent (1-6 3pt FGs) from beyond the arc.
But the tide was about to turn for the United States.
"Coach (Anne) Donovan told us during halftime that we weren't playing with a lot of energy," said Thompson, who averaged a team high 20.3 ppg. throughout the six-game tour. "Even though we thought that we were, it was something we weren't conscious of, it really was a totally unconscious thing. So in the second half, we came out and picked up our energy in the game and that made a big difference. Especially defensively. A couple times Tamika (Catchings) got into the passing lanes and she stole some balls and got some easy baskets on fast breaks. I definitely think that ignited us."
Shannon Johnson (San Antonio Silver Stars) got the second half rolling with a 3-pointer at 8:57. After a Hungarian field goal at 8:46 the USA reeled off 10 unanswered points in a 23-4 scoring spree that put the game away 69-39 with 13:47 to go in the contest. During the drive, Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) had three steals and 10 points, while Thompson netted six points. The team overall was credited with six of it's 19 steals for the night during the third quarter. The period ended with Hungary hitting a pair of threes and a layup to go into the fourth quarter trailing 69-49.
The final period saw the red, white and blue cruise in for the victory.
Every USA athlete saw between 17 and 23 minutes of action in a game that, in addition to Cash and Thompson's combined 40 points, saw Catchings score 12, and three other players, Katie Smith (Minnesota Lynx), Tangela Smith (Sacramento Monarchs) and Michelle Snow (Houston Comets) contribute eight points apiece. Snow was the team's high rebounder with eight, while Johnson dished out six assists.
Orsolya Englert and Edit Eordogh scored 16 and 12 points, respectively, for their squad.
Increasing its accuracy in the second half, the United States finished the game shooting 52.9 percent overall (37-70 FGs) and a respectable 50.0 percent (8-16 3pt FGs) from afar, while Hungary's shooting fell in the second half to finish at 42.6 percent (23-54 FGs) from the field and 41.2 percent (7-17 3pt FGs) from 3-point. Winning the battle of the boards 36-26, including 13 offensive rebounds, the USA also had 22 assists on 37 field goals and had 19 steals on 28 of Hungary's turnovers.
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 competed 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; 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 U.S. for a prior commitment. 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.
SUE BIRD, Seattle Storm
How's the team chemistry?
SWIN CASH, Detroit Shock
On the slow start and third quarter play:
TAMIKA CATCHINGS, Indiana Pacers
And the differences in the stadiums?
Are you pleased with the USA's strong finish?
What are your thoughts on the Hungarian Team?
SHANNON JOHNSON, San Antonio Silver Stars
What was your game plan for the second half of tonight's game?
RUTH RILEY, Detroit Shock
KATIE SMITH, Minnesota Lynx
After a bit of a slower start than usual, you all picked it up in
the third quarter. What happened at halftime?
TINA THOMPSON, Houston Comets