USA Battles Past Brazil 89-73 to Remain Perfect
Behind 19 points from Diamond DeShields (Chicago Sky), the USA (4-0) earned the No. 1 seed for Group B after defeating previously unbeaten Brazil (3-1) 89-73 on Thursday afternoon in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The U.S. advances to the medal semifinal and will play host Puerto Rico (2-1), which mathematically clinched the No. 2 seed out of Group A, on Sept. 28 (8 p.m. EDT). The USA’s final two games will be shown live on ESPN+.
The USA offense was also aided by Tina Charles (New York Liberty), who finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds for the double-double. Jordin Canada (Seattle Storm) added 12 points and six assists, and Katie Lou Samuelson (Chicago Sky) posted 11 points.
“Historically speaking, Brazil’s always been great,” said Dawn Staley, USA National Team and University of South Carolina head coach. “They’ve always been great against us. We didn’t think it was going to be any different today. So, when you play against a team like Brazil, you’re going to be challenged in a lot of different ways. They have some experience. Their post players are probably two of the best in the world. So, we knew we were going to be challenged in that way.
“Anytime we go into a tournament for USA Basketball, (our depth is) the separator for us,” she added. “If we only had five or seven players, I think countries would make it a lot more difficult to win basketball games. What separates us is our ability to call on anybody’s number down that bench. More times than not, they’ve answered the call and they’ve done it in a way in which we’re proud and they’re proud of their performance.”
“It was good,” said DeShields. “I feel that we’re one of the better teams here, so it was nice to match-up with another team and have a closer game like that before we get into the medal round.”
The USA scored first and never trailed in the game. Behind four points from DeShields and two from Charles, the USA opened a 6-2 lead. Brazil closed the gap to 8-7, but the U.S. went on a 5-0 run to open a 13-7 advantage and after completion of the first period the Americans owned a 24-16 lead.
Outscoring Brazil 29-24 in the second stanza, the U.S. buffered its lead to 53-40 at halftime, with 15 points coming from DeShields.
“Diamond’s first step, I’ve never seen anything like it before,” said Canada. “She’s super quick. She can get to the basket in one or two steps. When we have somebody like that, you can just kick it up to them and watch them do their thing. So, I’m glad we have Diamond on our team.”
Forcing Brazil into 5-of-16 shooting in the third quarter, the U.S. continue to expand on its lead and with 10 minutes to play in the game the USA owned a 71-52 lead and continued to hold a double-digit lead through the end of the contest.
“Through my tenure with USA Basketball, I know that Brazil is going to give you their everything,” said Charles. “They’re an emotional team. They feed off of each other. So, the way (Damiris) Dantas played, (Erika) De Souza, those two are really big for them, and they did a good job.”
The U.S. shot 55.2 percent from the floor, while Brazil managed to make 46.8 percent of its shots.
Both teams committed 14 turnovers, however, the U.S. outscored Brazil 19-5 in points off of turnovers.
The Americans were also strong on the glass, outrebounding Brazil 41-24 and outscoring their opponents 14-0 in second-chance points.
Brazil’s veteran duo of Dantas, 16 points, and De Souza, 13 points, led their side in scoring.
“It’s always tough to play the home team because they bring fans and they bring energy,” said DeShields of the USA’s semifinal opponent. “We know how much it means to represent your country, especially on your home turf. So, we’ve got to come and be us, play our game and I think we’ll be fine.”
.@DiamondDoesIt1 just makes it look so easy! 🔥🔥 (19 PTS| 4 REB| 9/13 FG) #AmeriCupWomen @usabasketball 🇺🇸— FIBA (@FIBA) September 26, 2019
📺 https://t.co/aUwf4UbMQT pic.twitter.com/m30JQfIhmk
In the other Group B game today, Colombia (2-2) defeated Argentina (1-3) 73-71 in double overtime to earn the group’s No. 3 seed. In Group A action, Canada (3-0) takes on Dominican Republic (1-2) at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) and host Puerto Rico (2-1) will play Mexico (0-3) at 8 p.m. (EDT).
The top two seeds from Group A were determined after four days of competition and are Canada as No. 1 and Puerto Rico as the No. 2 finisher.
In the other Sept. 28 (5:30 p.m. EDT) semifinal game, Canada will take on Brazil.
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.