|USA Women Run Away With 90-50 Victory Over Cuba|
Behind 16 points and nine rebounds from Candace Parker (Tennessee / Naperville, Ill.), the 2006 USA Basketball World Championship Team (4-0) remained undefeated after smoking Cuba (2-2) 90-50 on Saturday evening in the José Corrêa Arena in Barueri, Brazil. Also posting double-digit scoring efforts in the win were Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) and Tina Thompson (Houston Comets) with 13 apiece.
The USA's next opponent, France (3-1), which fell to Cuba 78-73 in preliminary play, bested Russia (2-2) earlier this afternoon 74-64. The USA versus France game gets underway Sunday at 1:00 p.m. (all times EDT) on NBA TV, with FSN scheduled to replay the contest at midnight.
"Once again we started the game very well," said USA and Seattle Storm head coach Anne Donovan. "We've played two games where in the second half we played with not the same intensity that we started the game. I thought tonight the women did a great job of keeping focused and putting the hammer down in the second half and not letting Cuba come back. We know they're very capable, they shot the three-ball pretty well early in the game. When they went to the zone it slowed us down a little bit. We looked in the second half to really stop their offensive glass, get out in transition even more and we did both of those things. I thought that helped us seal it. Good effort by us in the second half, which is something that we've been talking about doing."
Taurasi, who scored 10 of the USA's first 20 points, nailed a three 15 seconds into a game in which the U.S. never trailed. At 7:16 Cuba scored to tie the contest for the second time in the early goings, 5-5. Fifteen seconds later DeLisha Milton-Jones (Washington Mystics) went inside for a layup to spark a 15-4 USA run that ended with the United States in control 20-10 at 3:53. By the 2:40 mark, with the North Americans' lead at 22-15, Parker scored the first of seven points in a 12-2 run as the U.S. closed out the first 10 minutes of play up 34-17.
"I feel like we came out and got off to a really quick start," said Parker. "In the second quarter we kind of let up a little bit. But we controlled the boards, we ran, we were really up-tempo and I think that's to our advantage. I think we have to watch our turnovers, but that's something we're looking to correct in the next couple of days."
The United States increased its lead to 22 points in the second quarter, 45-23 at 4:56. However, a lapse in play allowed Cuba to reel off eight straight points as the islanders outscored the Americans 16-15 overall in the quarter. Still, the USA held a comfortable 49-33 advantage heading into the locker room.
The squad emerged from the break energized and back on track as it forced a pair of turnovers and three missed shots during Cuba's first six possessions and by 6:20 the lead was 60-37. The USA not only outscored Cuba 23-10 in the third and 18-7 in the final frame, the gap never again fell below 20 points as the Americans continued to pull away for the eventual 40-point win.
Both Parker and Michelle Snow (Houston Comets) grabbed a game-high tying nine rebounds, 2006 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) had three steals, while Alana Beard (Washington Mystics) and Parker were credited with four blocks apiece.
The USA's unselfish play produced 25 assists, a high of five from Taurasi, on 37 field goals. The North Americans also outrebounded the islanders 46-30, held them to an ice-cold 25.7 percent (18-70 FGs) from the field and held Yaima Boulet Peillon, who averaged 23.3 ppg. through Cuba's first three games, to just six points. However, the USA, which is currently averaging 18.0 turnovers per game through four contests, had 20 against Cuba.
Five-time World Championship competitor Yamile Martinez Calderon scored a team-high 12 points, whille Yakelyn Plutin Tizon had 10.
In other Group F second round action France (3-1) stunned Russia (2-2) 74-64 and the Czech Republic (3-1) nicked China (1-3) 79-73. In Group E Brazil (3-1) defeated Lithuania 84-67, Australia (4-0) remained unbeaten after edging Spain (2-2) 72-68 and Argentina (3-1) improved its record after taking Canada (1-3) 62-58. In classification play, Taiwan (1-3) collected its first win after defeating Nigeria (0-4) 81-77, while South Korea (1-3) earned a 75-69 victory over Senegal (0-4).
The top three finishing teams from each preliminary round group advanced to the second round, where the top three teams in Group C, the USA's preliminary pool, compete through Sept. 18 against the top three teams in Group D. The advancing teams from Group A and Group B play against each other in the second round. All of the USA's World Championship games are being televised live on NBA TV, with FSN (Fox Sports Network) replaying the games each night at midnight (all times EDT).
Quarterfinals are scheduled for Sept. 20, with the semifinals played Sept. 21. On Sept. 22, the bronze medal will be contested at 10:00 a.m., with the gold medal game following at 1:00 p.m.
Donovan is being assisted at the 2006 FIBA World Championship by 2006 WNBA Coach of the Year Mike Thibault of the Connecticut Sun and collegiate head coaches Gail Goestenkors of Duke University (N.C.) and Dawn Staley of Temple University (Pa.).
2006 FIBA World Championship
The Donovan-led U.S. squad will seek to defend its World Championship
title at the 15th FIBA World Championship. Behind the play of 2002 FIBA
World Championship MVP Leslie, as well as Bird, Catchings, Milton-Jones,
Smith and Swoopes, the United States captured the 02 gold medal,
successfully defending it's 1998 World Championship crown.
The U.S. entered this year's Worlds with a record seven gold medals, one silver and one bronze at the World Championship, while compiling an 80-20 (.800 winning percentage) record, including a 19-0 winning streak that dates back to the 1994 bronze medal game.