Additional Quotes >> USA 82, Australia 70
USA head coach Geno Auriemma (University of Connecticut)
On tonight’s game
We knew going into the game that it was going to be hard, no matter what the final score was going to be. We knew that we would feel it after the game; that it was going to be a hard-fought, very physical kind of a game. After that first quarter, we did a really, really good job of keeping Australia off the free throw line. I think they were averaging taking 27 free throws a game coming into this game, and I think they attempted 15. They were shooting 27 of them, so we wanted to concentrate a lot on keeping them off the free-throw line. I think they shot 10 in the first quarter. And after that we did a great job, we made a really strategic coaching decision. We said, ‘don’t let them shoot any more free throws. Just let them shoot wide-open 3s,’ and they made seven of them in the second half. So, that really worked out great for us (joking).
On the play of Tina Charles against Australia and throughout the tournament:
You’re right. She’s been playing exceptionally well the entire tournament. But when Brittney Griner’s in the building, that’s where all the focus is going to be from everyone. Tonight we kind of had an idea of how physical Australia was going to be with Brittney, and this is her first time through this. So, I’m not sure she’s had enough experience playing against these kinds of players on a regular basis, and Tina has. So, tonight you saw the experience that Tina has, and she played a lot of minutes, too. She played 31 minutes. Tina’s doing a lot of little things that maybe don’t even show on the boxscore. Some of the little things that she’s doing, whether it’s getting through a screen or making a pass to somebody, tipping the ball, kind of like Nneka (Ogwumike). Sometimes these guys do things that don’t end up big on the stat sheet, but they keep possessions alive, they get big buckets when the other guys are making a run. I’m not surprised, but I couldn’t be happier for Tina.
Spain deserves to be in the championship game. They deserve to be there because they played well the whole tournament and because they beat the home team in front of a great crowd in a great game. They have earned their way to the game tomorrow. So, I don’t think they’re looking at us and saying, ‘Oh my gosh, we have to play the United States.’ I think that what they did today was very impressive.
Tina Charles (New York Liberty)
On her performance tonight:
I know my role on the team – get on the boards finish when I can; if you get it in the post just make a great post move. B.G. (Brittney Griner) got in foul trouble, so it put a lot on my mind, just how I had to be there and stay out of foul trouble myself. So, I was just taking what the game gave me.
On the game against Australia:
We knew it was going to be tough. We haven’t taken anything for granted since the start of this tournament. Australia played aggressive, especially without Elizabeth Cambage, who is really their centerpiece. We just answered, we just responded really well.
On playing Spain:
It’s going to be really tough. Again, every player here, every team here got here for a reason, same way we got here. So, we’re looking forward to it. They have a great player with Alba Torrens and Laia (Palau), and a great inside game. We really look forward to it.
Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx)
On the game:
I thought we came out pretty well with our defensive focus and moved the ball, putting people in positions to score. I’m not sure how many assists we had, but I felt like we were finding each other. In the second half, we did a much better job of keeping them off the free throw line. We gave up a few too many 3s, more than we would have liked, and we had a few moments where we gave up some offensive boards. But overall, I thought we dominated defensively with our pressure and limiting them to one shot.
On playing Spain:
I’m excited. It should be a really great matchup as far as the two best teams in the tournament, I think, meeting in the gold medal game. Spain has a lot of great weapons, offensive talent, some versatile posts, guards that are pretty slippery and can get to the paint. So, we are going to have our hands full. It’s going to take a lot of focus and determination on our end, but I think we use our physicality well, and if we come with the same defensive focus, we will be great.
Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks)
On tonight’s game:
Australia’s a great team. They’re very physical. They challenged us to score in different ways. We had to be as aggressive as we could and not settle for outside shots. So, it was a tough game, but I was glad we were able to come out and limit their free throws in the last three quarters.
I’m really proud of our team tonight. Australia’s a great, great, great team. They’re very physical. I think they tested us in a lot of ways on both ends of the court. I think we did a great job of containing them and capitalizing and doing what we do best on both ends. It was a physical game, and it’s going to prepare us for the finals.
On knowing some of the Australia’s players from prior USA Basketball experiences:
Some of the players here, I’ve been been able to play against in previous USA Basketball experiences and obviously in the WNBA. They’re very physical, a very, very physical team. They’re a resilient team. They have a lot of talent. They’re capable of beating teams by a lot, so I think that having this game in the semis definitely prepared us for what we’re going to see in the finals.
On her game against Australia:
It was great. Any chance I get, I want to help. Anything they need me to do, whether it’s working with Tina (Charles) and B.G. (Brittney Griner), anybody out there. They called a few fouls on Brittney, so I had to step in and keep my poise, set screens and rebound. If that’s what the team needs me to do, then that’s what I’ll do.
I’m excited. I have a former teammate on that team in Laia Palau, and then you have Alba Torres, who is really great. I think it’s going to be a great match-up, and I think we’re going to have to really come out strong defensively.
They’re in these finals for a reason, because their players are great. Also, I’m excited to see some of the players I played against when I was 19 (2009 U19 World Championship) that are still here. I even have the pleasure of playing against Laia Palau my rookie year overseas in Poland. The talent is all over the place when it comes to not just here, but also Spain. Tomorrow is a great challenge for our team. I’m excited to be able to play against Spain because in the end it’s going to make us better. To be able to play against the people that I played against when I was 19, it’s a testament to the development of FIBA. So, I’m excited.
Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx)
On the game:
I thought it was a really tough game. Right from the start it was a tough battle. We had to fight through. I think the second quarter was where we got the biggest difference, and then we got a good lead in the fourth as well. But overall, a hard contested game. It’s the semis of the World Championship, so you know you are playing against the top teams in the world. You know it’s going to be hard. You know it’s going to be difficult. I thought once we got into a nice groove, we were able to make some plays.
On the USA’s defense:
Our defense was really good. We gave up some threes, but other than that, I thought that once we stopped fouling and put them on the free throw line at the start, I thought it was really good for us. We were able to keep them out of the lane. They are really big, so we had to get rebounds and run when we could.
It all started on the defensive end, and when we were good we were really good tonight, and there is some stuff we can clean up for tomorrow.
On playing Spain:
They are playing really well. We’ve seen a bunch of their games, and tonight they came into a really tough environment and the win. They got a lot of people playing really well, on a really high level. So, we know we have our work cut out for us, and we are ready for the challenge.