Chinese Taipei No Match For USA As American Women Run Away With 87-53 Win
Upping its spring exhibition record to a perfect 10-0, the 2006 USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team (4-0 Opals World Challenge) earned a 91-66 victory over Chinese Taipei (Taiwan / 0-4) in 2006 Opals World Challenge play on Tuesday night in Canberra, Australia. The USA's performance was highlighted by four players who scored in double digits, including a dominating showing by Tina Thompson (Houston Comets), who scored 24 points in the first half and capped the night with a game-high 28 points in just 18 minutes of action; while Candace Parker (Tennessee / Naperville, Ill.) finished with 13 points and led the game with 12 rebounds.
"Anne (Donovan) and Dawn (Staley) said in the beginning of the game that our inside game was definitely going to be the key to the game tonight," said Thompson. "I played to the strengths that they said we could take advantage of and it was there. I just kept on going there and as long as they let me keep going there, I just went on ahead and did it."
In tonight's second game Australia (3-1) had no problem dismantling China (2-2) 79-58. The Opals World Challenge concludes with the second USA-Australia clash on April 12 at 8:00 p.m. (6:00 a.m. EDT), preceded by a China versus Chinese Taipei game at 6:00 p.m. (4:00 a.m. EDT)
Chinese Taipei, playing as if it had nothing to lose, came out fighting and caught the United States off guard. The score went back and forth for most of the first period and with 2:26 to go Alana Beard (Washington Mystics) netted a three, which she followed by a steal and a layup, to kick-off a 9-2 run that had the U.S. in the lead 29-22. However, Chinese Taipei got a basket with time winding down and the first period closed at 29-24.
"I really thought we were going to start the game better than that," said USA and Seattle Storm head coach Anne Donovan. "I didn't think we'd take them for granted. But I think our approach was that we were going to walk out of here with the win. I'll take some of that on myself, in terms of being mentally prepared for this game. With a lot of the younger players we have on this team, we had to work hard at it. I'm really disappointed with how we approached this one."
The Americans were unable to shake the Taiwanese and with 7:42 remaining before the break the score was locked at 31-apiece. Parker hit the front end of a free throw at 6:56 to give the United States a one-point edge, and the lead never again changed hands. Getting a defensive stop. Parker fed Thompson inside at 6:38 and them came up with a steal that she passed this time to Swin Cash (Detroit Shock) for two. Continuing the defensive pressure, that Parker free throw was the first point in 23-7 run that saw Thompson score all 11 of her second quarter points during that time. By halftime The USA's lead was 54-38, with Thompson contributing the lion's share of points (24) in 14 minutes.
Parker scored the first four points after the midway point as the USA's lead ballooned to 20 points, 58-38, where it hovered until the closing minute of the third period as the U.S. closed the third with its widest margin thus far, 76-53. The American women went up by as many as 26 points twice before sailing in for the win.
Thompson, who also grabbed seven rebounds, and Parker, who also passed off for a team-best five assists, were not the only two with strong performances. Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx) scored 12 points and nabbed seven rebounds, Jessica Davenport (Ohio State / Columbus, Ohio) scored 10 points to go with her six boards, and both Beard and Cash topped out at nine points each. Beard was credited for a game-high five steals.
"I didn't even realize she had so many in the first half," said Augustus. "It was so smooth. She just played within her game, that's what she does every night, but it was more points in a small period of time."
The United States more than doubled Chinese Taipei's rebounding output with a 54-25 advantage on the glass.
Due to the timing of the 2006 WNBA Draft, Donovan, USA assistant coach Mike Thibault of the Connecticut Sun and the No. 2 pick Cappie Pondexter (Phoenix Mercury / Rutgers / Chicago, Ill.) arrived in Cairns in time for the first game. Due to flight delays, Augustus, the No. 1 selection by the Minnesota Lynx, met up with the team on Sunday in Canberra for the final three contests.
Sylvia Fowles (Louisiana State / Miami, Fla.) suffered a dislocated right shoulder in the USA's April 8 contest against Australia and will not compete in the remainder of the Opals World Challenge.
USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team
The USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team Committee, chaired by
Reneé Brown, the WNBA's Chief of Basketball Operations and Player
Relations, selected the athletes for the three spring training camps.
The spring training will give the coaching staff and USA Basketball Women's
Senior National Team Committee a chance to evaluate a variety of candidates
competing for the 12 roster positions on the 2006 USA World Championship
Team that will be announced later this summer.
Following the 2006 WNBA season, the USA will regroup in late August for
a final training camp before heading to Brazil to defend its World Championship
title at the 15th FIBA World Championship, slated to be played Sept. 12-23
in Sao Paulo.
Donovan will be assisted at the 2006 FIBA World Championship by Thibault
and collegiate head coaches Gail
Goestenkors of Duke University (N.C.) and Dawn
Staley of Temple University (Pa.). Because of Donovan and Thibault's
delayed arrival in Australia Staley served as head coach for the squad's
first contest on April 7.