USA Women Romp to 110-31 Win Over Paraguay in FIBA AmeriCup Opener
The USA (1-0) women’s first test of the 2020 FIBA AmeriCup proved no test at all. The taller and much more experienced Americans dominated their way to a 110-31 victory of Paraguay (0-1) Sunday afternoon in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Eleven of the USA 12 players scored in the romp, with Diamond DeShields (Chicago Sky) leading the way with game-highs of 20 points and eight assists. Arike Ogunbowale (Dallas Wings) added 17 points in the win, Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx) contributed a double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds, and Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky) added 10 points.
“I want our players to always respect our opponents and respect the game of basketball,” said Dawn Staley, USA National Team and University of South Carolina head coach. “We really only know one way to play and that’s to play hard, play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. So, we don’t really look at the score. We’re looking at how hard we’re able to execute on both sides of the ball, and I thought for a 40-minute stretch, we did that.
“What I liked about (today’s game) was that we were able to share the basketball,” added Staley. “We were able to stay connected defensively. We made adjustments from the first quarter to the second quarter and onto the third and fourth quarters. We fouled a lot in the first quarter. We made an adjustment and our players really executed what we wanted, which was to decrease the amount of fouling and to make people score over us because we had the size advantage. I thought we did a really good job of staying connected defensively.
Boasting of a roster featuring 10 players who had won at least one gold medal playing for USA Basketball, and owning an average height advantage of four inches on Paraguay, the USA jumped out to a 28-11 first quarter lead as Ogunbowale led the offensive onslaught with eight points and Fowles added seven points.
Outscoring Paraguay 28-7 in the second quarter, the U.S. took a commanding 56-18 lead to the locker room at half time.
The USA, which made 23-of-46 shots in the first half, allowed Paraguay just two field goals in the first 20 minutes, as Paraguay made just 2-of-25 shots in the first half.
Paraguay’s one positive in the opening half was its 13-of-21 shooting from the foul line.
“We knew that we were putting Paraguay on the free throw line a lot,” said DeShields of one of the points of emphasis for the second half. “So we just worked on staying solid defensively and making them score over us.”
“(We were) trying to push the tempo, run our plays through, execute and try not to foul,” added Ogunwobale. “Just little details that will be really important once we get further in the tournament.”
The second half wasn’t a whole lot different than the first. Limiting Paraguay to 2-14 shooting and just five points in the third stanza, the U.S. led 86-23 heading into the fourth period, and cruised in for the 110-31 victory.
As expected, the U.S. dominated the glass, outrebounding Paraguay 64-30.
Shooting 53.5 percent from the field (46-86), the Americans recorded 36 assists on their 46 field goals.
“I think the younger girls came out and played well,” said Fowles, who played in her first USA National Team game when she was still in college and now owns three Olympic gold medals. “They were very focused. They ran the plays right, so I’m very happy about that. At the same time, they were very aware of what was going on on the floor. They made some right reads, and they also played well.”
— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) September 23, 2019
Ten nations are taking part in the 2019 AmeriCup, with the top eight finishing teams advancing to a Nov. 10-18 FIBA Americas Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament (site TBA).
In Group A games today, Canada (1-0) defeated Mexico (0-1) 109-53 and Cuba tips-off against host Puerto Rico at 8 p.m.
Following preliminary play, the top two teams from each group advance to the Sept. 28 semifinals. The gold and bronze medal games will be held Sept. 29. All of the USA games will be shown live on ESPN+.
Following its game against Colombia, the USA will play Argentina at 5:30 p.m. on Sept. 25 and go up against Brazil at 3 p.m. on Sept. 26.
Dan Hughes (Seattle Storm), Cheryl Reeve (Minnesota Lynx) and Jennifer Rizzotti (George Washington), who assisted the USA to a gold medal at the 2018 FIBA World Cup, are serving as assistant coaches.
The USA National Team, which already has qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, will take advantage of and participate in FIBA’s new Olympic qualification process, that provides nations with two windows of competition, Nov. 10-18, 2019, and Feb. 2-10, 2020.
As was the case over the past three quadrenniums, the 2019-20 USA National Team roster, which currently lists 34 athletes, will be fluid. It is expected that the official, 12-member 2020 U.S. Olympic Team will be comprised of players from the 2019-20 USA National Team.
Chaired by USA Women’s National Team director Carol Callan, USA AmeriCup Team athletes were selected by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee, which currently includes three-time Olympic and two-time World Cup gold medalist Katie Smith as the athlete representative; representing the WNBA is Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller and Los Angeles Sparks general manager Penny Toler; and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma, who coached USA teams to gold medals at the past two Olympics and FIBA World Cups, serves as a special advisor.