USA National Team Drops Good Luck Beijing Tournament Opener To Rival Australia 74-60
April 19, 2008 ï¿½ Beijing China
The 2007-08 USA Basketball Womenï¿½s National Team (0-1) and Australia (1-0) battled for three quarters, but the USAï¿½s rivals from Down Under put together a 26-10 fourth quarter run that left the U.S. trailing 74-60 at the final buzzer. A pair of veterans were the only two to score in double digits for the U.S. as Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles Sparks) and Katie Smith (Detroit Shock) poured in 17 and 14 points, respectively on the opening night of the 2008 Good Luck Beijing Tournament in China.
Up next for the USA is Cuba (1-0), which clipped New Zealand (0-1) 75-71 earlier in the day, on April 20. The game tips off live on NBA TV at 2:30 a.m. (EDT) and will be rebroadcast at 4:00 p.m. (EDT).
ï¿½Obviously the result was not what we wanted in terms of a win,ï¿½ said USA head coach Anne Donovan. ï¿½But I was pleased with several things I saw out there today. Number one, itï¿½s good to have Lisa Leslie back on the court for us again. Sheï¿½s done a tremendous job getting herself back in shape after having a baby and being away from us essentially since Athens. Itï¿½s great to have her back on the floor again.
ï¿½Weï¿½ve had four practices with this new and very young team so overall I thought we did a nice job after four days of practice. It hurts us to lose this game against Australia, but we know weï¿½re going to continue to improve and get better as the tournament goes on.ï¿½
ï¿½Itï¿½s disappointing to lose because obviously playing for the USA, we never want to lose,ï¿½ said Leslie, who also grabbed a team-best eight rebounds and dished out three assists. ï¿½But I thought it was a very good learning experience with us coming here with a very young team. I thought we did a lot of good things tonight with the execution of our offense and also on defense. We will continue to improve and play better throughout this tournament.ï¿½
In a game that featured seven knotted scores and 13 lead changes, the play was evenly matched through much of the contest. In fact, neither team held more than a six-point lead through the first 33 minutes of action.
The Americans led 33-29 at halftime and held a 50-48 edge heading into the fourth quarter. At 9:19 Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), who got into foul trouble early in the game and sat out most of the first three periods, took a pass inside from Leslie to give the USA its final lead of the game, 52-51.
Australia regained the lead, this time for good, 17 seconds later on a Suzy Batkovic bucket that spurred a
13-3 Australian run. Batkovic bookended the run with a three at 6:28 that put the Opals in front 64-55. Leslie and Fowles contributed a basket each to pull the USA to within six points, 64-59 with five minutes on the clock, but that was as close as the red, white and blue would get to Australia.
Fowles finished with nine points, four rebounds and a pair of blocked shots.
Australiaï¿½s points were well distributed as Rohanee Cox scored 16, Hollie Grima had 13, Erin Phillips finished with 12 and Batkovic tossed in 10.
The USA struggled with its outside shooting, making just 2-of-19 from beyond the arc and closed the night making 36.5 percent (23-63 FGs) overall. Australia outrebounded the U.S. 39-34, had 13 steals and scored 11 points off the USAï¿½s 17 turnovers; while the USA was unable to capitalize on Australiaï¿½s errors, receiving just two points on 13 Opal turnovers.
In the opening dayï¿½s final game host China (1-0) surged past South Korea (1-0) for an 80-67 win.
Following the April 20 USA ï¿½ Cuba contest, the U.S. will face South Korea on April 21 (2:30 a.m. EDT). Following a day off, the USA will meet New Zealand on April 23 (10:15 a.m. EDT) and closes preliminary play against host China on April 24 (8:00 a.m. EDT).
On April 26 FIBA, the International Basketball Federation, will host the 2008 Olympic draw (5:30 a.m. EDT) at the Wukesong Arena between the bronze (3:15 a.m. EDT) and gold medal (8:00 a.m EDT) games.
NBA TV will televise live the USAï¿½s games against Cuba and China, as well as its final game on April 26, and will re-air each of those games at 4:00 p.m. (ET) the afternoon of the games.
Donovan is being assisted on the sidelines by collegiate head coaches Gail Goestenkors of the University of Texas and Temple Universityï¿½s Dawn Staley. USA assistant coach Mike Thibault (Connecticut Sun) aided in the teamï¿½s pre-Beijing training camp but was unable to join the team in China due to his WNBA coaching duties.