Ohlde's 18 Paces U.S. To 87-66 Win Over Mondeville
Nicole Ohlde (Minnesota Lynx) led the way with 18 points as the 2006 USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team (4-0) opened its second European tour on Monday night in Mondeville, France, by earning an 87-66 victory over USO Mondeville Basket. The U.S. was also aided in the win by 17 from Katie Smith (Detroit Shock) and 15 points from Sheryl Swoopes (Houston Comets). Next up for the United States is a March 22 contest versus a Hungary All-Star Team in Györ, Hungary, and this tour will close with a March 24 game against MiZo Pécsi in Pécs, Hungary.
"You can tell that we were one practice shorter than the last tour," said USA and Seattle Storm head coach Anne Donovan. "I think one practice more would have helped here because I thought after the first quarter we played pretty well together. With nine players, it's pretty tough in terms of rotations and minutes. But there were some real positive things. Like they pressed the entire game and we handled that very well, we didn't have turnovers against the pressure. I thought we had different people stepping up. Katie Smith continues to shoot the ball really well, which is a very positive thing for USA Basketball."
The U.S., which only had practiced together as a unit three times prior to stepping onto the court tonight, got off to a slow start and with 11:34 to go in the half the score was knotted at 16-apiece.
"I think we might have expected them to be a little intimidated, a little nervous and not come at us as hard to start the game off," said Swoopes. "But they did just the opposite. I think they felt like they had to be physical with us and do the things that they do well to try to take us out of our game. Even though we've had three practices and we know the offense, we still don't know it as well as we should."
However, the American women settled down, found their mark on passes, played tighter defense and strung together a 13-0 run to pull away 29-16 with 6:20 remaining before the break.
"We (started) getting stops on defense, boarding the ball, that kind of stuff," said Ohlde. "And we were starting to move the ball better. I think that if we just do those things we can pull away from teams like that. But when we didn't do that, we didn't rebound, when we didn't play defense, that's how they started coming back on us."
Grace Daley, who played part of four seasons in the WNBA for four different teams, helped Mondeville stay within striking distance. By halftime Daley accounted for 14 points as her squad trailed the USA 45-31.
Getting fouled after grabbing her own offensive board, Ohlde swished in a pair from the stripe to jump-start the second half. Alana Beard's (Washington Mystics) steal on Mondeville's next possession set up another Ohlde jumper and with 37 seconds elapsed in the period the United States owned a comfortable 18-point, 49-31, cushion. Following a Swoopes layup and another Ohlde bucket, Smith was assisted by Swoopes on a pair of treys ;to make it 59-36 and the red, white and blue never looked back.
At the end of the third period the USA held a 70-53 lead and cruised through the final stanza for the eventual victory.
Michelle Snow (Houston Comets) celebrated her 26th birthday by scoring 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field, while also grabbing five rebounds. Donning a USA Basketball jersey for the first time, Kristin Haynie (Sacramento Monarchs) didn't waste her minutes and came up with nine points, four assists and four steals in her inaugural contest for the United States. Additionally, Swoopes dished out eight assists and was credited for six rebounds, while Ohlde pulled down seven.
Due to a computer glitch, complete statistics were unavailable for USO Mondeville. However, Daley finished with a game-best 23 points, while Julie Legoupil scored 12.
Donovan is being assisted on the sidelines in Europe by 2006 USA World Championship assistant and WNBA Connecticut Sun head coach Mike Thibault, the only coach known to have served as a coach for a USA Basketball men's and women's team. Collegiate head coaches Gail Goestenkors of Duke University (N.C.) and Dawn Staley of Temple University (Pa.), have also been selected to assist Donovan and the U.S. squad at the 2006 World Championship, but are unable to aid in Europe due to their collegiate coaching commitments.
USA Basketball, which has just begun the second of three training camps, will conduct its final leg of training beginning in Boston, Mass., March 31-April 4 and concluding with the April 7-12 Australia-hosted Opals World Challenge.
Participating athletes will be announced prior to each training session. The USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team Committee will utilize these three spring training camps, as well as a portion of the WNBA season, to evaluate players for the final12-member team that will represent the United States at the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sept. 12-23.