USA Overtakes Japan in the Fourth Quarter for 102-87 Win
Trailing by two points to start the fourth quarter, the USA Women’s National Team outscored Japan 35-18 in the final 10 minutes to earn a 102-87 exhibition win on Monday night at George Washington University’s Charles E. Smith Center in Washington, D.C.
The USA trailed by as many as seven points in the third quarter before launching its offensive attack in the fourth, making 12-of-18 shots from the field (.667), while allowing just seven made baskets from Japan (four of which were 3-pointers).
“They put us back on our heels and they made us play a little bit differently than we’re used to playing,” said USA head coach Dawn Staley (South Carolina). “But, I thought we found good combinations out there on the floor that opened the game up for us.
“We’re just moving forward. We can’t worry about what the inexperience is. We have to get better each and every day. No matter what we’re doing, whether we have inexperienced or experienced players, we have to implement the type of basketball we want to play on both sides of the ball.”
The win wrapped up the USA’s domestic exhibition tour, and the USA next will head to Antibes, France, where it will play exhibition games against Canada on Sept. 15, Senegal on Sept. 16 and France on Sept. 17, prior to the start of the 2018 FIBA World Cup on Sept. 22 in Tenerife, Canary Islands.
The USA was led by the inside powers of A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces), who finished with 26 points and three blocked shots, Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), who contributed 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun), who rounded out the USA’s double-digit scorers with 12 points and a USA team-high five assists.
At halftime, WNBA president Lisa Borders presented Wilson with her 2018 WNBA Rookie of the Year trophy and Ogwumike with her 2018 Seasonlong WNBA Cares Community Assist Award.
“Every single time you come, whether it’s training camp, a championship, World University Games, it’s always an experience,” Ogwumike said of playing for USA Basketball. “That’s something that we’re harping on this time around, especially with so many new faces that we have. We’re using this opportunity to get better in order to go to the Worlds, and do what we need to do.”
The USA put the first points on the board, but after four tied scores and five lead changes, the period ended with the USA trailing 24-22. While Wilson scored eight points in the period, Japan was shooting at will from deep, connecting on 4-of-13 3-pointers.
After trading scores to start the second, the USA put together six unanswered points to retake a 38-35 advantage with 3:16 to go before halftime. Japan’s Evelyn Mawuli, however scored seven of Japan’s last 11 points, as it pulled ahead of the USA 46-45 at the midway point.
The U.S. bench scored 16 of the USA’s 23 points in the second quarter, including six points from Ogwumike.
A 6-0 run for Japan pushed its lead to seven points with 6:15 on the clock in the third period, but four different scorers helped the USA work its way to within two points, 69-67, headed into the final quarter.
From there, the USA took over.
“Japan knocked down shots,” Charles said. “But, we knew that they would do that. They’re going to drive and it’s really hard to help because everyone can make 3s. They played really well, but we were able to last longer in that fourth quarter.”
For the game, the USA shot an impressive 52.8 percent from the field (38-72 FGs) and compiled a 45-34 rebounding advantage, including 13 offensive boards.
The official, 12-member USA roster for the 2018 FIBA World Cup will be announced prior to Sept. 22.