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Facing a must-win situation in order to keep its championship hopes alive, the USA Women�s Select Team outlasted a strong CSKA Moscow pro team 81-72 to advance to the semifinal round at the 2007 FIBA World League Tournament in Ekaterinburg, Russia, on

USA Women�s Select Team Collects 81-72 Victory Over CSKA Moscow

-- Seimone Augustus Leads Charge With 19 Points As U.S. Advances To Semifinals --

Oct. 24, 2007 � Ekaterinburg, Russia

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Facing a must-win situation in order to keep its championship hopes alive, the USA Women's Select Team (2-1) outlasted a strong CSKA Moscow (2-1) pro team 81-72 to advance to the semifinal round at the 2007 FIBA World League Tournament in Ekaterinburg, Russia, on Wednesday night. Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx) led the American women with 19 points, while Katie Smith (Detroit Shock) had 16, Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) finished with 15 and Katie Feenstra (Detroit Shock) tossed in 10.

The USA advances to Friday's semifinals as the No. 2 seed in Group B behind CSKA due to a three-way tie that also included TEO Vilnius (2-1), which finished third. The American women will go up against the top finisher in Group A, host UMMC Ekaterinburg (3-0) (9:00 a.m. EDT), while CSKA and CBA Beijing (2-1) will square off in the other semifinal.

'We came out tonight with so much intensity and so much pride in what we were doing from the very beginning,' said USA and Seattle Storm head coach Anne Donovan. 'We made ourselves play good basketball with our focus and our mindset coming in. Added to that, everybody played so well. Whether it was Seimone (Augustus) playing brilliantly in the fourth quarter, Katie Feenstra coming in and getting great defensive stops for us, Janel McCarville in the back court, there were a lot of heroes in this game that are not your typical USA Basketball National Team stars. It was really nice to see everybody step on the court and play so well.'

Owning a 61-55 heading into the fourth quarter, the U.S. pushed its advantage to 68-57 with 8:19 to play. But as had been the case the entire game, CSKA wouldn't be shaken. With its defense slowing down the USA's game and with the help of three treys in a 10-2 spurt, the game was even at 70-apiece at 5:26.

Smith, who fouled out 14 seconds later, broke the tie with a jumper at 4:46 to put the United States up for good, 72-70. Sue Bird (Seattle storm) followed that up with a steal and layup and the U.S. was ahead by four, 74-70.

From there, neither team was able to convert on their next few possessions and with 2:32 showing on the clock CSKA got its final points of the game from a pair of Ann Wauters free throws.

The Russian squad was held scoreless the remainder of the game by a stifling defensive effort that caused a pair of turnovers and four missed shots, while the USA collected on five of six attempts from the charity strip and a field goal from Augustus to close the contest.

'I think everybody contributed well today,' said Augustus. 'Janel (McCarville) had like 13 rebounds and that was key to keep (Maria) Stepanova and (Ann) Wauters off the boards. Diana (Taurasi) came in and did a wonderful job of doing what she does best, which is scoring and putting pressure on their defense. Everybody in general came out and gave a lot of defensive intensity, whether it was getting a defensive deflection on the ball, getting steals or being very effective on the offensive end and helping people get shots.'

Following a Maria Stepanova field goal to open the game, the USA hit its first four shots, including six consecutive points and a pair of steals from Smith, in an 11-2 run. CSKA came back, however, and at the end of the first quarter the USA's lead was down to two, 21-19.

Both sides had a few scoring spurts in the second quarter and with five minutes to go before halftime the USA remained on top by two, 33-31. CSKA, which hit 3-of-6 from the line in a 7-0 run, went ahead 38-33 in a four-minute span. But Augustus got a bucket and Taurasi drained a three at the midway buzzer to knot the score at 38-all heading into the locker room.

'That's Dee,' said Bird, reflecting on the 3-pointer to close the half. 'She's going to make those big plays. She's going to make the big shots and do whatever it takes for us to win.'

Featuring four lead changes, the third quarter ended with an Augustus fast break layup and the USA ahead 61-55.

In addition to the scoring efforts by Augustus, Feenstra, Smith and Taurasi, the USA's win was aided by 13 rebounds from Janel McCarville (New York Liberty), Feenstra narrowly missed out on a double-double with nine boards, and Bird notched five steals.

 
Three-time Olympian and two-time FIBA Europe Women's Player of the Year Maria Stepanova led the Moscow side with 18 points and 11 boards, while the Sacramento Monarchs' Nicole Powell scored 14, Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Silver Stars had 12 and Wauters finished with 10 points.
In other games today TEO Vilnius kept Canberra Capitals (0-3) winless with an 84-67 victory, BC Havana (1-2) edged MiZo Pecs 2010 (0-3) 72-71 and host UMMC Ekaterinburg (3-0) remained perfect with an 84-76 win over CBC Beijing (2-1).
 
The Connecticut Sun's Mike Thibault, also an assistant coach for the 2006-08 USA Basketball National Team, is assisting Donovan along the sidelines.
 
USA Basketball is the national governing body responsible for men's and women's basketball in the United States and is responsible for representing the USA in international competitions. The USA Basketball Select Team consists of eight players from the 2007-08 USA Basketball Senior National Team who are candidates for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Women's Basketball Team.