USA Women’s 3x3 Team Rolls to Pair of Victories to Open Play at World Beach Games
The USA women’s 3x3 team (2-0) of Paige Bueckers (Hopkins H.S./St. Louis Park, Minn.), Napheesa Collier (Minnesota Lynx/Connecticut), Ruthy Hebard (Oregon) and Jackie Young (Las Vegas Aces/Notre Dame) rolled through its first two opponents on the first day of action at the 2019 ANOC World Beach Games in Doha, Qatar. Opening with a 22-5 win over Dominican Republic (0-2), the U.S. cruised past Jordan (0-2) 22-4 in its second contest.
The USA’s scoring was balanced over the two games, with Collier and Hebard accounting for 12 points each, Bueckers notched 11 points and Young scored nine.
Over the two games, the USA shot a blistering 63.8% (37-58 FGs) from the field overall and 33.3% (4-12 2pt FGs) from 2-point, while limiting its opponents to a combined 15.9% (7-44 FGs) shooting, including holding Dominican Republic and Jordan to 0-of-14 from beyond the arc.
Additionally, both games ended before the 10-minute game clock expired.
“We play together really well,” said Bueckers. “We pound it inside, but we also have me and Jackie to shoot it. So, we’re really balanced. If you stop one, you can’t stop the other. We play as a team and we’re selfless. That’s what I like about this group.”
In the first game, Hebard scored three points in an opening 4-1 run and the USA continued to pull away. Holding a 12-5 advantage, the U.S. scored 10-straight points to close out the game, which was finished off by a Bueckers 2-pointer.
Collier and Hebard led the way against the Dominicans with seven points apiece, Bueckers scored five points on 2-of-4 from 2-point and Young, playing in her first USA Basketball game, added three points.
“It was definitely fun,” said Young of her first experience playing for the red, white and blue. “I worked for this for a long time, so to be able to finally be able to put on a USA jersey, it’s just an amazing feeling. I’m super blessed to have the opportunity to play for USA Basketball.”
Against Jordan, which fell to Russia (2-0) 16-7 in its first contest of the day, Hebard scored the game’s first two points and the Americans never trailed. After a Jordan bucket, the U.S. combined for 15 unanswered points to take an insurmountable 17-1 advantage. Up 20-4, Bueckers again netted a 2-pointer to end the game.
“Our game plan is to get 22 each game because if there’s a tiebreaker, it’s whoever has the most points,” said Bueckers on her team’s game-ending strategy. “So, whenever we are up at the end by a lot and we can get 22 (points), that’s always the plan.”
Bueckers and Young tied as the team’s top scorers against Jordan with six points, while Collier and Hebard added five points apiece.
The American women close out their preliminary pool against also unbeaten Russia on Oct. 15 (8 a.m. EDT). In addition to its 16-7 win over Jordan, Russia downed the Dominicans 19-10. By virtue of their 2-0 slates, both teams have clinched a berth in the Oct. 16 quarterfinals. However, the No. 1 seed out of Group A will be at stake in the game.
“They’re a good team, Russia is always good,” said Young. “They really look to go into their posts. They have two bigger post players, so we have to be ready for that. We need to play good defense, watch the slips and things like that. I think if we go out there and play our game, play the way we’ve been playing, we’ll be fine.”
The team is taking part in the inaugural World Beach Games 3x3 women’s basketball competition at Katara Beach from Oct. 13-16.
The inaugural World Beach Games, which feature beach, water and action sports, are a six-day competition that will include 13 sports and 14 disciplines, with more than 1,200 athletes from 97 nations expected to participate.
“It’s been a good experience,” added Young. “It’s eye-opening to be around athletes from different countries, seeing them around. We see them a lot in the dining hall and stuff. It’s just really neat.”