Tamika Catchings (USA Basketball photo)
Sept. 13, 2006
Barueri, Brazil - The 2006 USA Basketball Women's World Championship Team (1-0) had no problems in its first game of the FIBA World Championship as it dispatched China (0-1) 119-72 at the José Corrêa Arena in Barueri, Brazil, Tuesday night. Led by Sue Bird's (Seattle Storm) 20 points, the USA spread the wealth around as every member of the team scored no less than four points each and five finished in double digits. The USA next faces Nigeria (0-1) on Sept. 13 at 6:45 p.m. (all times EDT).
The 119-point tally was not only the most scored by any team in the first day of tournament play here in Brazil, it eclipsed the former USA World Championship record of 109 scored by the 1983 USA squad that featured USA and Seattle Storm head coach Anne Donovan on the roster.
"I was really pleased about a lot of things tonight," said Donovan. "We saw the zone, we got to run our motion offense against the zone. We had a bunch of different people playing and everybody contributed. China is a great first game, it's a good team. I think we made them look poorly tonight by turning the ball over. Defensively that's been our focus so to force that many turnovers means we're doing something right."
"I think the best thing about USA Basketball is that at all times everyone's here for one thing and that's to win," said Bird. "I think that for Katie (Smith) and Cheryl (Ford) to get here today and do what they did on the court to help us out and fit right in is a true testament to that. Everybody just wants to win and do whatever they need to do. That's what you saw tonight."
The USA, after missing its first five shots, found itself trailing 5-4 at 6:42. Ten seconds later, Candace Parker (Tennessee / Naperville, Ill.) hit a turn-around jumper to spur a 10-0 run and the United States never looked back. After forcing China into poor shot selection and turnovers, when the game was five minutes old the Americans were up 14-5.
Katie Smith (Detroit Shock), who arrived in Sao Paulo this morning in time for shoot-around, checked into the game in time to feed a pass to Sheryl Swoopes (Houston Comets) for a 3-pointer that gave the U.S. its first double-digit lead of the contest, 21-9, with 3:06 to go in the first quarter. China cut it to ten points twice, but the Americans scored the period's final six points for a 29-13 lead.
The United States put the game virtually away early in the second quarter. With the USA's lead standing at 31-20, Parker tipped in a bucket to kick-off another big run that left China in the dust, 48-23, with 5:51 to go before halftime. Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) scored seven and Parker put up six points during the 17-3 scoring spree that broke the game wide open.
By halftime the USA's lead was 62-34 and at the end of the third quarter the Americans remained well in control 96-56.
With 3:30 to play and the score standing at 108-65, Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx) hit an outside jumper as the Americans went up 110-67, officially setting a new USA World Championship record.
In addition to Bird's 20 points and six assists, Taurasi and Tina Thompson (Houston Comets) each scored 17 apiece, Parker notched 12 and Augustus chipped in 10 points. Parker also had 10 rebounds for a double-double, while Michelle Snow (Houston Comets) grabbed 10 boards to go with her eight points and three blocked shots.
China veterans Nan Chen and Lijie Miao each contributed 17 points, while Xiaoli Chen scored 10.
The United States not only dominated in scoring, it shot a sizzling 56.8 percent (46-81 FGs) from the field and 50.0 percent (10-20 3pt FGs) from beyond the arc, while its defense forced China into 29 turnovers and just 38.3 percent (23-60 FGs) shooting on the night.
After traveling to Brazil overnight Monday, Smith, who competed in all 11 of the USA's spring training games, arrived in time to participate in the team's morning shooting practice. However, Cheryl Ford (Detroit Shock) first stepped onto the court to warm up prior to tonight's game and finished with five points and two rebounds in 15 minutes of action.
"I have to say, in the perimeter, to have Katie Smith coming off our bench, I think all of the coaches are breathing huge sighs of relief," said Donovan. "Where we were good, we're great now in the perimeter. And Cheryl Ford, just her presence in the post, she's a banger. She left some bruises against China and that's exactly what we need her to do. Both came in and did a great job not having worked with the team."
Donovan is being assisted on the sidelines by 2006 WNBA Coach of the Year Mike Thibault of the Connecticut Sun and collegiate head coaches Gail Goestenkors of Duke University (N.C.) and Dawn Staley of Temple University (Pa.).
In other preliminary round action Spain (1-0) defeated South Korea (0-1) 87-57, France (1-0) edged the Czech Republic (0-1) 62-58, Brazil (1-0) relied on a put-back from Helen Luz with five seconds remaining to clip Argentina (0-1) 71-69, Russia (1-0) earned an 85-50 victory over Nigeria, Cuba (1-0) took a 75-70 win over Taiwan (0-1) and Canada (1-0) eked out a 65-64 win over Senegal (0-1). Lithuania (0-1), which is having travel difficulties, was unable to make it to the arena in time and thus Australia (1-0) was awarded a 2-0 victory.
All of the USA's World Championship games are being televised live on NBA TV, with FSN (Fox Sports Network) replaying the games each night at midnight (all times EDT). The USA continues preliminary round play against Nigeria on Sept. 13 at 6:45 p.m. and concludes preliminary round action against Russia on Sept. 14 at 4:30 p.m.
The top three finishing teams from each preliminary round group will advance to the second round, where the top three teams in Group C, the USA's preliminary pool, will compete Sept. 16-18 against the top three teams in Group D (times TBD). The advancing teams from Group A and Group B will play against each other in the second round.
Quarterfinals are scheduled for Sept. 20, with the semifinals played Sept. 21. On Sept. 22, the bronze medal will be contested at 10:00 a.m., with the gold medal game following at 1:00 p.m.
Donovan is being assisted at the 2006 FIBA World Championship by 2006 WNBA Coach of the Year Mike Thibault of the Connecticut Sun and collegiate head coaches Gail Goestenkors of Duke University (N.C.) and Dawn Staley of Temple University (Pa.). Because of Donovan and Thibault's delayed arrival in Australia Staley served as head coach for the squad's first contest on April 7.