USA Opens its AmeriCup Play with Impressive 102-39 Win Over Dominican Republic
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Setting a U.S. women’s AmeriCup single-game record with seven blocked shots, the USA (1-0) kicked off its play at the FIBA Women’s AmeriCup 2021 with a 102-39 win over an out-matched Dominican Republic (0-2) on Saturday evening at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The USA, which shot 43.4% from the field (36-83 FGs) and tallied 26 assists, collected 62 rebounds, including 28 offensive boards. On the defensive end, the USA held Dominican Republic to 26.2% from the field (16-61 FGs) and forced 28 turnovers.
“As the game went on, I thought we made some adjustments, just the physicality of it,” said Dawn Staley (South Carolina), USA AmeriCup and National Team head coach. “I thought we moved the ball a lot better. I thought we locked in defensively and played an imposing style of defense, and it was good to see some shots go in. And it was good just to play against someone else other than us, but we're looking forward to just continuing to get better as we as we continue to play games.”
The USA next will play 2-0 and host Puerto Rico at 9:10 p.m. EDT on June 13 (all games are available on ESPN+).
While all 12 U.S. players scored, Destanni Henderson (South Carolina/Fort Meyers, Fla.) led the way with 17 points, including five 3-pointers, which tied the record for USA women’s AmeriCup single-game highs, matching Katy Steding (vs. Canada in 1993) and Jennifer Azzi (vs. Chile in 1993).
“I feel like our defense is what started our offense,” said Henderson, who also dished out five assists. “In the second half, I feel like it opened up the floor more. I feel like we gave up on unselfish plays, we were giving the ball up for the better shot. I just feel like we were playing well together tonight, and we just got to keep going with that and just find our niche to keep playing games.”
Elissa Cunane (NC State/Summerfield, N.C.), who collected eight rebounds, and Sedona Prince (Oregon/Liberty Hill, Texas) each scored 12 points, and Aliyah Boston (South Carolina/St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.) finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.
“It was so much fun to get the first game under our belt,” Cunane said. “It was my first time in a USA uniform on the court, so it was just good to get out there, run and really click as a team.”
Dominican Republic struck first, and the first quarter saw three lead changes and three tied scores before the USA began to pull away. With the USA leading 15-13, Henderson sank back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 21-13 at 2:13. Both teams scored twice more, and it was 25-17 after the first 10 minutes.
That would be the highest scoring quarter for Dominican Republic for the game, as the USA held its opponent to six points in the second and just two points in the third quarter.
Prince scored the first six points in the fourth quarter to kick off a 35-point performance for the USA in the last 10 minutes, while Dominican Republic totaled 14 points. Henderson again hit consecutive 3s in the fourth to make it 91-35 at 3:28, with both assists coming from Ashley Owusu (Maryland/Woodbridge, Va.). With another 3, Henderson scored 10 of her points in the fourth quarter, while Prince also added 10 in the final stanza.
The USA reached triple digits when Owusu converted a 3-point play with eight seconds left in the game to bring the score to its 102-39 final.
The seven blocked shots were compiled by five players, including two apiece from Boston and Haley Jones (Stanford/Santa Cruz, Calif.), and one each from Henderson, Rhyne Howard (Kentucky/Cleveland, Tenn.) and Prince.
“It felt great,” Owusu said of the USA’s performance. “I think the chemistry was good – personally speaking, and I think I can speak for everyone else. But it was our first game, and we have another one tomorrow, so we got to turn the page and get ready for that one.”
Following Puerto Rico on June 13, the USA will meet Venezuela at 6:10 p.m. EDT on June 14 and will wrap up the preliminary round against Argentina at 9:10 p.m. EDT on June 15.
The top four teams from each preliminary pool of five teams will advance to the quarterfinals, which will be played on June 17. The semifinals are on June 18, and the third place and gold-medal games will be played on June 19.
The top four finishing teams at the AmeriCup will advance to compete in one of four 2022 FIBA World Cup Qualifying Tournaments, in hopes of earning one of the 12 spots in the 2022 FIBA World Cup.
Jennifer Rizzotti (Connecticut Sun president) assistant coach for the USA AmeriCup and Women’s National Teams, and University of Arizona head coach Adia Barnes complete the USA AmeriCup staff.