U.S. Pan American Games 3x3 Women’s Team Golden
It was a perfect showing by the U.S. Women’s 3x3 basketball team at the 2019 Pan American Games. Finishing 7-0 over the course of the three-day competition, the U.S. women won the first ever Pan American Games 3x3 gold medals after fighting off Argentina (5-2) 21-17 in Monday’s gold medal game.
The U.S. men's and women's teams both captured gold, making it a sweep for the USA in the Pan American Games 3x3 basketball competition.
"Definitely our chemistry and working together though any obstacles really," said Olivia Nelson-Ododa (Connecticut/Winder, Ga.) of the USA's strength. "One thing we struggled with in this tournament was physicality, and I think we were able to overcome that especially in the big games. We were also able to have really big moments where people definitely really shined and were able to come through for us."
Argentina marched out to a 3-0 lead, but the U.S. evened the game at 3 when Sabrina Ionescu (Oregon/Walnut Creek, Ore.) connected on a 2-pointer. Argentina held the upper-hand 9-8 with 4:04 left on the game clock, but Nelson-Ododa tied the game at 9-9. Christyn Williams (Connecticut/Little Rock, Ark.) scored and was fouled, and with Argentina over the foul limit, made one of two free throws to up the U.S. lead to 11-9.
Owning a 13-12 lead with 1:55 remaining, Ionescu hit a 2 with 1:46 to play, and with 1:31 left and Ruthy Hebard (Oregon/Fairbanks, Alaska) cushioned the lead to 18-12 when she scored and was fouled and made two free throws. Argentina rallied once more and cut the deficit to 19-17 with 39 seconds to play.
Ionescu made one of two free throws to increase the U.S. advantage to 20-17, and the red, white and blue earned the gold medal victory when Ionescu found Hebard inside for the game winning point with :08 left on the clock. Ionescu and Hebard were credited with seven points each in the game, Williams added five points and Nelson-Ododa tossed in two points.
"We were all really determined. We didn’t come out as strong as we wanted to but I think we were ready and we knew they were going to give us a few punches and I think we punched back really well," said Hebard.
It was all U.S. in the women’s semifinal matchup against Brazil. Behind three points from Hebard and two more from Williams, the USA women jumped out to a 5-0 lead and rolled on from there to record a lopsided 21-5 victory and advance to the gold medal game.
Holding a 9-4 lead, Nelson-Ododa scored four of the USA’s next five points as the U.S. pushed its advantage to 14-4. With the U.S. leading 15-5, Ionescu turned red hot and capped off the game with three straight 2-pointers to earn the USA the 21-5 win with 3:09 remaining on the clock.
The USA made a sizzling 60.0 percent (15-25 FGs) from the field overall and defensively limited Brazil to chilly 17.4 percent (4-23 FGs) shooting. Ionescu finished with nine points, Nelson added five, Hebard scored four points and Williams tossed in three points.
"This feeling is incredible. We prepared so much for this and just to have the ability to come down here and compete and complete our goal it’s an incredible feeling," said Nelson-Ododa.