USA U23 Women Warm Up With Scrimmage Victory Over Australia
The USA U23 Women’s National Team got its first taste of international competition with a friendly game against Australia on Aug. 10 that saw the Americans record a 78-63 victory at Katayanagi Arena in Tokyo.
The USA outscored Australia 20-9 in the first quarter, and that cushion was the difference in the game. Over the final three quarters, the USA only outscored Australia by a total of four points, including 24-23 in the second, 18-16 in the third and 16-15 in the fourth quarter.
All 12 players scored for the USA, including 14 points from Kelsey Mitchell (Ohio State/Cincinnati, Ohio), 11 from Asia Durr (Louisville/ Douglasville, Ga.) and 10 points and seven rebounds from Mercedes Russell (Tennessee/Springfield, Ore.).
“I thought they did a really nice job,” said Jeff Walz, USA U23 and University of Louisville head coach. “It was nice to play against someone else. You could just tell they were biting at the bit, ‘Just give me somebody else to bang on.’ I thought we shared the ball well. For the most part, we defended well. I’m looking forward to seeing the game film. We’ll be breaking things down and getting prepared to play Australia again in two days.”
The USA will open play in the inaugural U24 Four Nations Tournament against Australia at 5:30 a.m. (all times listed are EDT) on Aug. 12, then take on Canada at 3:30 a.m. on Aug. 13 and conclude its competition against host Japan at 5:30 a.m. on Aug. 15. The event is a round-robin tournament featuring USA, Australia, Canada and host Japan that is being played Aug. 12-15 at Katayanagi Arena in Tokyo.
- USA assistant coaches Courtney Banghart of Princeton University and Michelle Clark-Heard of Western Kentucky University had positive critiques of the USA’s performance.
"It was good to see how much our team is willing to share the ball," Banghart said. "These players are used to being the top players on their team, and they were willing passers. We are still finding that balance between being aggressive and passing. Defensively, we made good adjustments. We were a little bit slow switching on screens and a little bit slow recovering on ball screens, but I thought we cleaned that up in the second half."
"We tried some different lineups," said Clark-Heard. "I saw them executing a lot of what came out of the huddle from coach Walz. We had to pick up our intensity. We challenged them to do what we needed them to do. I was proud of that -- the difference between the first half and the second half, just them doing the little things that we talked about."
- The USA featured four players who took part in their first international game, including forward Monique Billings (UCLA/Corona, Calif.), guard Brittany McPhee (Stanford/Normandy Park, Wash.), forward Mitchell and guard/forward Jamie Nared (Tennessee/Portland, Ore.).
While this contest was a scrimmage, the USA will meet Australia for a second time on Aug. 12 in the first game of the 2017 U24 Four Nations Tournament.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but it was fun,” Nared said. “Just getting to wear a USA jersey is an honor.
“I think Australia definitely will play harder when we play them in a few days,” Nared added. “But, it was good to see what they like to do and what we can get better at. It was really our first time playing against a different team. I thought it was just nice how we played together and shared the ball. It’s so different, because on our teams most people are so used to scoring, and on this team, you have to find a different role.
- The USA shot 47.7 percent from the field (31-65 FGs), compared to Australia’s 38.7 percent (24-62 FGs), compiled 14 assists, committed 16 turnovers and forced Australia into 19 turnovers.
“I thought we played well, and I thought Australia played well,” said 6-foot-7 center Kalani Brown (Baylor/Slidell, La.). “They were a very good team. I was excited to play. Our team was excited to play, and we are just glad that we came out with a win. There were some things that we need to work on, of course, but for the most part we executed well.”
- The scrimmage took place in the tournament venue – Katayanagi Arena, where the USA will practice on Aug. 11. The USA squad is also scheduled to spend a few hours on Aug. 11 sightseeing around Tokyo.