USA Thrashes Argentina 104-53, Now One Win Away From Earning Olympic Qualfiying Berth
ï¿½ USA Remain Spotless And Advances To Sunday's Gold Medal Game ï¿½
Sept. 29, 2007 ï¿½ Valdivia, Chile
Rebekkah Brunson (Sacramento Monarchs) came off the bench to score a team-high 20 points as the USA Basketball Womenï¿½s Senior National Team (4-0) catapulted into the FIBA Americas Championship gold medal game with a dominating 104-53 performance over Argentina (2-2) on Saturday afternoon in Valdivia, Chile. Also aiding in the scoring barrage were Candace Parker (University of Tennessee) with 17 points, Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx) had 15 and Katie Smith (Detroit Shock) notched 11 points.
The USA will face Cuba (3-1), which defeated Brazil (3-1) 69-67 in todayï¿½s second semifinal, in Sundayï¿½s 4:00 p.m. (EDT) gold medal game, televised live on NBA TV. The winner not only returns home with the gold, but will punch its ticket to the 2008 Beijing Olympics
'I thought it was another great effort on our part,' said USA and Seattle Storm head coach Anne Donovan. 'Defensively we came out focused and took charge of the game right from the beginning, I was really pleased with that. Our running game was top notch. From start to finish I thought we handled it well.
'I honestly think that our three games since Cuba have been easy because of our focus. I thank the Cuba game for giving us that focus and that level of understanding of what weï¿½re facing now. These have been big margins of wins. But if you really look at our statistics, other than this afternoon, we have stayed focused at both ends of the floor. Looking back, I realize that Cuba was a great way to snap us into the reality of the moment and play in the moment. I donï¿½t think it will be difficult at all to raise the level again tomorrow.'
Parker scored the gameï¿½s first six points helping spark a 13-2 U.S. opening run, setting the tone early. At the end of the first quarter the USA was out in front 28-9. With the starting five out for the second quarter the bench continued to hammer away utilizing teamwork, stifling defense and crisp passes in a 21-1 second quarter sprint that put the game well beyond reach, 49-10, with 2:48 still to go before the midway break. By halftime the North Americans owned an insurmountable 56-15 advantage.
The USA went up 78-31 at the end of three and sailed through the fourth quarter for the 104-53 win.
With Argentina showing no serious threat to their advance to the final contest, Donovan was able to distribute the minutes and rest her players for what should be a much tougher contest tomorrow.
'Thatï¿½s what makes us a great team, we have 12 great players,' said USA reserve guard Cappie Pondexter (Phoenix Mercury), who registered seven assists and three steals. 'We kind of wear down other teams because we are strong. When we come in with the mind-set like the starters, thereï¿½s really no stopping us.'
In addition to the four in double digits for points, the USA was aided on the glass by six boards from Brunson, while Parker grabbed five. DeLisha Milton-Jones (Washington Mystics), who scored eight points and was credited with five caroms, dished out six assists and Taurasi passed out five.
Argentinaï¿½s Mariana Cava scored 20 points in her squadï¿½s losing effort.
The USA was accurate from the floor 55.4 percent (41-74 FGs) of the time, while holding Argentina to just 39.6 percent (19-48 FGs). The U.S. won the battle of the boards by a heady 44-23 margin, passed out 29 assists and had 24 steals on 30 Argentina turnovers.
In todayï¿½s first game Canada (2-2) bested Mexico (0-4) 77-38, while the second consolation semifinal saw host Chile (2-2) beat Jamaica (0-4) 75-67.
Donovan is being assisted by 2006 WNBA Coach of the Year Mike Thibault of the Connecticut Sun and collegiate head coaches Gail Goestenkors of the University of Texas and Temple Universityï¿½s (Pa.) Dawn Staley.
Teams finishing in second, third and fourth place at the 2007 FIBA Americas tournament will have one final chance to earn a spot in Beijingï¿½s 12-nation field at the 2008 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Those three nations along with nine other national teams from around the globe who did not claim gold at the remaining FIBA zones, including two from Africa (silver and bronze medalists), two from Asia (silver and bronze medalists), four from Europe (second through fourth place finishers) and one from Oceania (silver medalist), will compete for the final five Olympic slots at the 2008 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament.