U.S. Pan Ams Women’s Basketball Team Tops Colombia 75-63
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The 2019 U.S. Pan American Games Women’s Basketball Team (3-0) jumped out to a 24-13 first quarter lead and never looked back en route to a 75-63 victory over Colombia (2-1) on Thursday afternoon in Lima, Peru.
The win secured the USA’s No. 1 seed out of Group B for the Aug. 9 semifinal at 10 p.m. EDT, where it will meet the No. 2 seed from Group A, which will be determined following tonight’s two Group A games (all games are available on ESPN3).
The other semifinal game will feature Columbia against Group A’s No. 1 seed at 7 p.m. EDT.
On Aug. 10, the semifinals losers will play for bronze at 7 p.m. EDT, and the winners will meet in the gold medal game at 10 p.m.
The USA earned a 26-point lead in the first half, which helped it sustain a second-half effort from Colombia that saw it outscore the USA 18-12 in the third and 24-16 in the fourth.
“I think we just were a little lackadaisical in the second half,” said USA head coach Suzy Merchant (Michigan State). “I thought we did a better job in the first half. We turned it over a little too much, but we did a good job against their big kids that score the ball for them, got them out of a rhythm, got them in foul trouble. And then at halftime, we sort of came out and went through the motions. And credit Colombia. They did a great job.
“We have to get more consistency. It is an opportunity for us to learn from it and, obviously, keep it moving. We are on to the next, and the next is the medal round opportunity.”
Led by 15 points from Beatrice Mompremier (Miami/Miami, Fla.), all 12 U.S. players put points on the board. Also scoring in double digits were Michaela Onyenwere (UCLA/Aurora, Colo.), who had 14 points and a game-high nine rebounds; and Tyasha Harris (South Carolina/Noblesville, Ind.), who tallied 10 points.
Scoring the game’s first seven points, the USA never trailed and held a 24-13 lead at the end of the first 10 minutes of play.
Colombia hit a pair of free throws to make the score 26-15 with 9:14 to play in the second quarter. The U.S., however, over the next 3:24 strung together 13 unanswered points and with 5:50 on the clock held a commanding 39-15 lead from which Colombia never recovered.
In all, the USA held Colombia to just two field goals in the second quarter and outscored the South Americans 23-8 to extend its lead to 47-21 at halftime.
“Defensively, we were focusing on certain people to stop, and in the first half we did what the coaches wanted us to do,” said Onyenwere. “But in the second half, we kind of let up, and that is not something we can do, especially down the stretch. Give credit to Colombia, they did come back, but we know we didn’t play our best.”
Over the first two quarters the North Americans were red hot, shooting 60.6% (20-33 FGs) from the field, while its defense smothered Colombia into an icy 21.1% (8-38 FGs) of its field goal attempts.
Colombia fought hard throughout the game and narrowed the margin in both the third and fourth quarters, but the USA’s first half lead sustained its win.
“I think we came out and executed the game plan very well, but I think we got a little comfortable at times, and we let them get back into the game,” said Harris.
“We are not worried about seeding, one or two,” Harris added about tomorrow’s semifinals. “We are just ready to compete.”
In the other Group B game today, Argentina (1-2) defeated U.S. Virgin Islands (0-3) 73-59 to finish as the No. 3 and 4 seeds, respectively.
Later today, Brazil (2-0) will take on Paraguay (0-2) at 7 p.m. EDT and Canada (1-1) will play Puerto Rico (1-1) at 10 p.m. EDT to finalize Group A's seeding.
On Aug. 9, the two No. 3 teams will play for fifth place, and the No. 4 teams will play seventh place.
The USA assistant coaches are Felisha Legette-Jack (Buffalo) and Vic Schaefer (Mississippi State).