USA Women's National Team Surges Past France 84-62 In Exhibition
It is not easy to be patient at times. With so much talent on one team, there is the notion that things will come easily every time the USA Basketball Women’s National Team steps on the floor.
That is hardly the case. Not with the team being together for less than a week as it concludes its preparation for the Olympic Games in Rio. Players are still feeling themselves out offensively. It will take time, but the USA progressed forward Wednesday in its exhibition game against France.
Tina Charles finished with 17 points, five rebounds and two assists, and the U.S. used a potent second half performance to seize an 84-62 victory before 4,711 at the Bob Carpenter Center on the campus of the University of Delaware. The game was a rematch of the gold medal game at the 2012 Olympics in London, an 86-50 win by the U.S.
“(Patience) is probably going to have to be our biggest attribute,” USA guard Diana Taurasi said. “We’ve been together for four days, and sometimes you expect it to just happen overnight. So that other game against the Select Team (Monday), there was some things we were like, ‘Man, we’ve got to clean up.’ And I think (Wednesday) was a step in the right direction, because there were things that we needed to fix and we actually got them done. So for us that’s a big step.”
Behind 19 points and five rebounds from Penny Taylor, Australia defeated Canada 80-67 in the first game. Taylor, Brittney Griner and Taurasi are teammates with the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA.
The game marked the first of three exhibition games in a span of five days for the USA. It will face Canada Friday in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Australia Sunday in New York.
Maya Moore added 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals for the U.S. Taurasi had 10 points, three rebounds and two assists, while Angel McCoughtry contributed nine points and three rebounds off the bench.
“These games are crucial for us to just continue to get better,” U.S. wing Elena Delle Donne said. “And to see the improvement from the first all the way to the fourth quarter was really exciting. And we’ve got a lot to work on.”
Delle Donne, who enjoyed an All-American career at Delaware, totaled 10 points and two rebounds in 17:54. The sellout crowd hung on her every move and responded in kind.
“It was by far the most emotional game I’ve ever played at the Bob,” Delle Donne said. “To see faces that have been watching me here since eighth grade and have gone along this entire journey with me and now to see me in a USA jersey, which has been my dream my entire life and really the pinnacle of my career. It was so special to come out and share that with them as well.”
The U.S, which trailed 22-17 at the end of the first quarter against the USA Select Team Monday, got off to another slow start against France. The USA led 20-17 after the first quarter Wednesday, but it was 7-of-15 from the field and committed five turnovers.
The shooting did not improve in the second quarter as the U.S. was 4-of-18. A jumper by Seimone Augustus actually gave the USA a 26-19 lead with 6:28 left in the half. But it then missed six straight shots and eight of its final 10 to close the half.
France led 31-30 before Moore hit a jump shot with 25.9 seconds left to give the U.S. a 32-31 lead.
“We came back in the locker room, and I think we were only up one, but we felt like we were playing well,” Taurasi said. “A couple mistakes here. A couple turnovers there. A couple bad shots and you look up and it’s a close game. So we felt good going into the locker room. We knew if we took care of a couple details that we could kind of break it open. France is a top team in the world. We know the caliber of players they have. So, we still need that confidence and (Wednesday) was good for us.”
The U.S. nearly duplicated its first-half scoring output in the third quarter by outscoring France 31-15. Moore (3-of-5 FG) and Sylvia Fowles (3-of-3) each had seven points. Charles (3-of-3) added six. Taurasi (2-of-2) had 5.
Fowles scored all of her points in the final 3:29 as the USA ended the quarter with a 12-2 run to open a 63-46 lead. The U.S. was 12-of-17 from the field and committed just one turnover. It was turnover-free over the first 8:12 of the quarter.
“We have so many good players that it takes little bit of time for us to get our bearings,” USA head coach Geno Auriemma said. “But we came out in the second half, and I think Dee was lot more aggressive. Sylvia just was incredible. And the same with Stewie. We got lot of great energy and great stuff from the bench in the second half that we really didn’t get in the first half. So, that was probably the biggest thing.”
The U.S. shot 61.3 percent from the field in the second half (19-of-31). Its lead grew as large as 26 in the final minute.
“The reality that we have is that we have an advantage as far who we’re playing with,” Moore said. “We’re playing with the most talent one through 12. But we haven’t had that time together on the court, learning each other, having our instincts be instinctual with each other. And it’s going to take some time. But we’re going to work through it, and I think we’re waiting for that time because of how focused we are when we play each friendly game, when we’re in each practice.”