Additional Quotes: USA Women's Pan American Games Team 93, Puerto Rico 77
USA head coach Lisa Bluder (University of Iowa)
Did you expect the game to go into the fourth quarter so close?
We were hoping not. I thought we were doing such a good job on the rebounds, especially Alaina. I just thought she was terrific on the boards for us. We out rebounded them convincingly, and we had such good, high-percentage shots. We shot the ball really well tonight. We had 40 paint points, and so I am surprised it was that close going into the fourth quarter.
Their guards scoring, hitting 3s, we you prepared for that?
We hadn’t seen them shoot that well, and that’s why the game was so close going into the fourth quarter. And then when they lost number 8 (Carla Cortijo Sanchez), that was a big loss for them, she’s their catalyst. That was a huge loss for them. They shot the 3-ball extremely well, I’m glad we did as well.
Do you think the defense had to pick it up in the forth quarter to get a little bit of difference in the score?
I think we kind of all took a real big breath. We just took a big breath going into the fourth quarter, relax, ok, now we’re going to dominate. Let’s go out there and dominate. That was what we were trying to do in the last minutes, and I think our kids really responded.
You’re moving on to the semifinals and you have Cuba, what are your thoughts on that game?
Well, the thing that concerns me most is the quick turnaround to that game. By the time we get home tonight, the time they get to bed, it will be 1 a.m., and we’re playing 12 hours later. We will not have a shoot-around, it’s the first time in this tournament that we won’t have a shoot-around to do any game preparation. We’ll still have a team meeting in the village, but it will have to be a mental preparation rather than a physical preparation tomorrow.
The team has made progress; is the team where you wanted them to be heading into the semifinals?
I am just so impressed with how our inside game is playing. Stephanie (Mavunga) is coming in and doing some good things for us. You got Tay (Taya Reimer), you got Alaina, you got Bre (Breanna Stewart) that gets in there. We are unbelievable inside. I feel like for our guard play, we’re still trying to find that Tiffany (Mitchell) that we’ve lost. That’s a hard person to recover from losing. Hopefully, again, every time we play we’re going to get more and more used to that.
Alaina Coates (South Carolina/Irmo, S.C.)
Can you talk about the start you helped get the team off to? You had a double-double by halftime.
I just took advantage of them not crashing on the boards offensively and defensively. It was kind of close, so I knew defensively rebounds were going to help us, and offensively, either getting a put-back or getting it back out to somebody else that was open was really going to help us, especially during that little crunch time that we had. I just knew that, again, focusing on just rebounding; rebound first, shoot second.
Can you talk about the difference in the fourth quarter and what helped you pull away there at the end?
I think we finally just got it together, and we were able to shut down the shooters like we were supposed to. There was a little confusion during the game, but in the fourth quarter we finally were able to settle down and play calm like we do. Puerto Rico wanted to speed us up, but we were able to keep it at the tempo we wanted it to be.
What are your thoughts on facing Cuba in the semifinals?
I think it’s going to be a good matchup. It’s definitely going to be a pretty good battle. Just from watching them play against Canada, their post players bang. They like to rebound. Their shooters are not like Puerto Rico’s shooters, but you never know what’s going to happen on any given day, so we’re just trying to be prepared for anything.
Moriah Jefferson (Connecticut/Glenn Heights, TX)
What were your thoughts on tonight’s game?
Pretty sloppy. Number 8 (Carla Cortijo Sanchez) came out and killed us. What are you gonna say? She came out and knocked every shot in, and I take my hat off to her. I just hope she is okay with her injury.
I think we battled, I think we grinded it out. It was not a pretty game, but in the end we got the win.
What was the difference there in the end when the U.S. got the lead to 18?
Number 8 got hurt, and she was making every shot. Once that happened, they weren’t making as many shots. We stepped up the defense a little bit, and then we got a couple of shots to fall. Alaina and Steph were battling for rebounds, and that helped out a lot.
Is the team ready for the semifinals tomorrow?
Oh yeah. It’s a quick turn around, so you have to be prepared. The team we play, Cuba, played a great game against Canada tonight and lost by three, so they’re going to come out and play really hard.
Kelsey Plum (Washington/Poway, CA)
Can you talk about the game against Puerto Rico.
They’re a very good team. They came out and shot great from the floor, especially from 3. I think the biggest thing was just locking that up, getting the rebounds defensively and then offensively, just taking care of the ball. We had some patches where we kind of got sloppy. But once we tuned that up, Stewie (Breanna Stewart) got out, Mo (Moriah Jefferson) hit some big shots. It was a great team win.
Talk about the depth on this team. Is it hard to step up or does it just come in the flow?
Playing on such a talented team, when you sub in you’re going to fulfill your role to the best of your abilities. Tonight I was able to get some open looks. It’s been really fun playing with some of the most talented players. You just get better every day. Tonight I had an opportunity to step up, but everyone has had that opportunity, and they’ve field that role. So, it’s been awesome.
You have Cuba in the semifinals; what are your thoughts on that?
Seeing Cuba today, it was an intense game. I almost thought they were going to beat Canada. They’re a very good team; very athletic; they can shoot the ball; well coached. So, we’re gong to have to get a good night of rest and really prepare for them.