USA Women’s National Team Tops Oregon State 81-58
The USA Women’s National Team (8-0, 2-0), which led just 36-31 at halftime, pulled away from Oregon State University in the third quarter on its way to a 81-58 win on Monday evening in Corvallis, Oregon.
The win marked a milestone for Chelsea Gray (Los Angeles Sparks/Duke), who checked in at the 2:00 mark in the first quarter to officially register her first game in a USA Basketball uniform. She proceeded to score her first points 12 seconds later and finished the contest with eight points and four assists – three of which were perfect deliveries to her LA Sparks teammate Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks/Stanford).
“It was great,” said Gray after the game. “It was the first time ever in my career playing with USA Basketball. I had a great time, being able to be out there with other amazing athletes. There’s a sense of pride wearing the USA jersey.”
— Allison Galer (@AllisonGaler) November 5, 2019
A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces/South Carolina) had a game-high 18 points and nine rebounds and was one of four USA players to record four assists. Ogwumike added 17 points and six boards, and Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx/Louisiana State) finished with 13 points. Sue Bird (Seattle Storm/Connecticut) passed out five of the team’s 27 dimes.
“You’ve got to give credit to Oregon State,” said Dan Hughes (Seattle Storm), USA co-coach for the team’s fall games. “First of all, the environment was fantastic. Anybody who was in the building (or) watching it on TV understands what a great time it is for women’s basketball when you can see that kind of atmosphere. They made us have to raise our game, which is part of what this tour is about. They executed their stuff. They were persistent, they tempo’d the game and outrebounded us in the first half. And then our players took what we talked about at halftime and put it on the court in a big way.”
Oregon State led for much of the first quarter, but the USA took a 19-17 lead to end the period, and the USA lead still was a slim margin at halftime, 36-31.
“Overall, I think we played well,” said Fowles. “Our defense is what set the tone. We started off a little slow in the first half, but we eventually picked it up throughout the game and I think that was the game changer for us. What worked for us tonight was us being consistent and making sure we got the ball where we wanted to get the ball. I think that kind of wore them down as the game went along.”
The USA shot 60.3% from the field for the game, including a red-hot 70.4% in the second half.
In the third quarter, the USA turned the game into a rout, and Ogwumike scored 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting in the period. The red, white and blue was up 60-43 with 10 minutes left to play.
— Oregon State WBB (@BeaverWBB) November 5, 2019
Oregon State was led by 2015 USA U19 World Cup Team gold medalist Destiny Slocum, who scored a Beaver-high 15 points.
“At the end of the game I just told her to keep going, to keep leading her team,” said Wilson, who was Slocum’s roommate at the 2015 FIBA U19 World Cup. “Destiny is someone who is very easy to play with, so I know that Oregon State has just welcomed her and she’s leading the way that she should. It was definitely a lot of fun seeing her compete against Diana (Taurasi) and Sue (Bird) and seeing her grow in that area. The sky’s the limit for a young kid like Destiny, and I’m looking forward to seeing her in March with this great Oregon State team.”
Throughout the game, no matter the score, the 6,134 fans in the building never stopped cheering for striking plays on both ends of the court.
“It’s always great to play in an atmosphere like this,” stated Fowles. It gives you a sense of home and it’s a player’s gym when it’s like that.”
The USA outscored Oregon State 21-15 in the fourth quarter to earn the win.
“We have played two very well-coached (college) teams that I think are in the process of developing their systems very effectively,” added an impressed Hughes. “I know there were a couple missing pieces tonight, but I know that’s going to only make them better and … wow.”
The 2019-20 USA National Team is unbeaten in its first eight contest, having earned six victories and the gold medal at the FIBA AmeriCup in September and two wins thus far in November.
The USA next will face Texas A&M on Nov. 7 and Oregon on Nov. 9 before traveling to Argentina for the FIBA Americas Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament.