BASKETBALL: USA Cruises Past Spain 106-70, Into Gold Medal Game
Jenny Maag
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October 02, 2010 5:07 PM
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USA Cruises Past Spain 106-70, Into Gold Medal Game

    KARLOVY VARY, Czech Republic (Oct. 2, 2010) – After opening the game shooting 5-of-5 from the field to ignite an 11-1 run, the USA Basketball Women’s World Championship Team (8-0) steadily improved its advantage throughout to easily secure a 106-70 win over Spain (6-2) that featured points from all 12 players and earned the USA its place in the 2010 FIBA World Championship gold medal game.

“I thought we played really, really well on offense,” said USA and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma. “Our defense got better and better as the game went on. We’re about as ready as we can be going into tomorrow night.”

The USA will battle host Czech Republic (6-2), which earlier today outlasted Belarus (4-4) 81-77 in overtime, for the gold medal at 8:00 p.m. (2:00 p.m. EDT) on Oct. 3 in Karlovy Vary; while Spain will meet Belarus to play for bronze at 5:30 p.m. (11:30 EDT). The USA’s final game, which will be played in front of a raucous crowd of Czech supporters, will air live on NBA TV, and fans can also watch live streaming of all FIBA World Championship games at www.FIBATV.com.

“Tomorrow night’s going to be one of the most difficult challenges for this team,” Auriemma continued. “You’re playing the Czech Republic on their home court, with all their fans, in kind of a Cinderella run for them to get to this point. I think the emotions and the energy in this building is going to be a great place to be tomorrow night. I’m looking forward to it.”   

Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), who was 3-of-4 from 3-point, led four U.S. players in double figures with 14 points. That was followed by Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky) with 13 points and a game-high six rebounds, Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream) with 11 points and three steals, and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) with 11 points and four assists.

Additionally, Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) dished out a game-high five assists and three players just missed double digits, including Swin Cash (Seattle Storm), who was 4-of-4 from the field, Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun) and Ashja Jones (Connecticut Sun) with nine points apiece. 

“We came out in the first quarter and set the tone early,” Taurasi said. “They’re a tough team. They made some good plays to stay in it, but our depth outlasted theirs today.”

The USA’s 11-1 run to start the game was interrupted by a basket from Spain’s Alba Torrens at 7:16, and while the U.S. onslaught was slowed, the Americans steadily improved their advantage to take a 13-point, 29-16 lead after the first ten minutes. Eight U.S. players put points on the board in the first quarter, including Catchings with six and Fowles and Jones with five apiece.

The trend continued throughout the game as Spain prevented any unanswered U.S. run from growing past seven points, but it could not stop the USA’s balanced attack or exploit the USA’s defense.

Nine players scored for the red, white and blue in the second period, highlighted by three U.S. 3-pointers and five points from Cash, and the USA took a 58-34 margin into the halftime locker room.

“We have a mix of young and older, veteran players coming off the bench, and I think that really helps us sustain our energy and take it to another level,” Cash said.

Spain compiled its largest run, a 6-0 stretch, at the start of the second half and came within 17 points, 59-42, at the 7:34 mark but would come no closer. A Taurasi pull-up jumper followed by a basket from Charles inside gave the USA back a 21-point margin and was the start of a 28-11 scoring advantage to help the USA take a 87-53 lead into the final stanza.

As the U.S. reserves, who were responsible for 62 of the USA’s 106 points, got much of the playing time in the final quarter, the USA took its largest lead of the night with a basket from Jayne Appel (San Antonio Silver Stars) that put the USA up by 41 points, 106-65, at 1:48. Spain put the game’s final five points on the board for the 106-70 finish.

    Overall, the USA tallied 60 of its points in the paint, outrebounded Spain 44-28 and shot 60.0 percent from the field (42-70 FGs) and 58.0 percent from 3-point (7-of-12 3pt FGs).

    “No, it wasn’t easy,” Fowles said. “You have to go out there and be focused, but at the same time coach was on our butt, and he wants us to do exactly what he said to do. It was hard at times, but at the same time we were just playing USA Basketball.”

Spain, which was led by 16 points from Marta Fernandez, was without injured forward Sancho Lyttle who had been her squad’s second-leading scorer and top rebounder.

Earlier this afternoon, Australia (6-2) edged Russia (6-2) 78-73 to earn the right to play tomorrow at 2:45 p.m. (8:45 a.m. EDT) for fifth place against France (5-3), which recorded a 61-46 win against South Korea (3-5). Meanwhile, Russia and South Korea will meet in the seventh place game at 12:00 p.m. (4:00 a.m. EDT).

     In today’s morning’s games, Brazil (4-4) beat Japan (2-6) 84-79 to finish ninth in the tournament and Greece (3-5) topped Canada (1-7) 71-55 to take home 11th place.

Assisting Auriemma and the USA National Team through the 2010 FIBA World Championship are DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno, Los Angeles Sparks head coach Jennifer Gillom and Atlanta Dream head coach / general manager Marynell Meadors.

The American women, who now own a 96-21 (.821) all-time record since the first FIBA World Championship was held in 1953 and are assured of their ninth straight podium finish at the Worlds, will be fighting for their eighth World Championship gold medal.

“We’re very excited about this,” said Bird, who was on the U.S. team that lost to Russia in the semifinals in 2006. “For the few of us who were here in Brazil, this is where we fell short last time. To come out and play the way we did, Spain was a great opponent. But for us, we’re very focused and right now we’re one step away from where we wanted to be a couple years ago. Hopefully we can redeem ourselves.”

Not only is a gold medal at stake in Karlovy Vary, but the gold medalists will earn a berth to the 2012 Olympic Games.

Should the U.S. not finish with the gold medal on Sunday, it would have two additional chances to qualify for the Olympics: the 2011 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD) and 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD).
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