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USA Races to Another Victory



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VALDIVIA, Chile - The USA Basketball Women's Senior National Team (2-0) ran out to an 11-0 run against Jamaica (0-2) to open its second game at the FIBA Americas Championship on Thursday afternoon in Valdivia, Chile, and never looked back en route to an eventual 115-47 win.

Lady Vol junior All-American Candace Parker chipped in seven points and three steals in 16 minutes, while former UT All-American Kara Lawson tossed in 11 points, a team-leading seven rebounds, to go along with seven assists and five steals in 20 minutes off the bench.
 
The dominating team performance clinched a semifinal berth for the U.S., which saw each team member score at least four points. Seimone Augustus' (Minnesota Lynx) game-high 19 points on a perfect shooting afternoon (8-8 FGs, 3-3 FTs) led the charge, Tina Thompson (Houston Comets) followed with 18, Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) had 12 and Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) and Lawson (Sacramento Monarchs) chipped in 11 apiece.

The USA, which will close out preliminary round action against Canada (1-0) on Friday in a 4:00 p.m. (EDT) game that will be televised live by NBA TV, must win the gold medal at the eight-team tournament in order to secure a slot in the 2008 Olympic women's basketball tournament.

"I was really pleased that we never lost our intensity," said USA and Seattle Storm head coach Anne Donovan. "From the beginning of the game to the end of the game I thought we really kept our energy and our intensity up. That's what you want to do in games like these, you really want to be able to come in hard, play hard all the way through and not lose your focus. I thought that every player did a great job of that. We improved in a lot of areas. Our post defense was outstanding. Our ball pressure, our zone looked good. We improved in a lot of areas that we were working on.

The USA's points were well distributed from the start as eight different players scored during the first period that ended with the defending Olympic champs on top 22-11. The USA's show of force never let up as the red, white and blue continued to overpower its opponents for a 20-point, 48-28, halftime lead.

"We went in with the intentions of coming in and being very aggressive, especially defensively," said Thompson, whose teammates combined to force 20 steals on 32 Jamaican turnovers. "Our defense created a lot of offensive opportunities, which is great. That's something that we needed to do."

Putting on an offensive clinic in the third quarter, one that included a Parker dunk attempt, the North Americans outscored Jamaica 35-13. The U.S. also showed off its defensive prowess and allowed the islanders just three field goals during that span, closing out the stanza up 83-41. Utilizing bench players in the fourth quarter, the USA's defensive intensity didn't drop a bit as the squad outscored Jamaica 32-6 for the eventual victory.

Recently-crowned WNBA Finals MVP Cappie Pondexter (Phoenix Mercury) dished out nine of the USA's 32 assists on a total of 44 field goals and came close to a double-double with eight points. Also distributing the ball well were Lawson and two-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Smith (Detroit Shock), who passed off for seven and six assists, respectively.

The USA, which edged Jamaica on the glass, 37-36, committed only eight turnovers. The USA's second half outburst was aided by a sizzling 66.7 percent (28-42 FGs) shooting from the floor, while holding Jamaica to a frigid 17.4 percent (4-23 Fgs). In all, the USA's shooting was much better than the previous game against Cuba as the squad connected on 60.3 percent (44-73 FGs) overall and held Jamaica to 27.5 percent (14-51 FGs) from the floor.


 

 

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