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Team USA heads to Rio

TEAMUSA1

July 31st 2016

USA 104   AUS 89

USA’s last exhibition game before heading out to Rio for the 2016 Olympics.

With a wealth of talent team USA came into this last tune up before they head to Brazil for the 2016 Olympics looking for a strong performance. Using WNBA players the women’s national team has a clear advantage over many of the other countries however that does not mean they will have an easy path while in Brazil. Maya Moore, Angel McCoughtry, Tina Charles and many of the leagues all-stars are poised to bring back a 6th consecutive gold medal for the United States. Australia features two current WNBA players, Penny Taylor of the Phoenix Mercury and Erin Phillips of the Dallas Wings. Like the men’s game there is international influence on many of the leagues rosters.

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Maya Moore. Photo: Sherman Gomez for PureSportsNY

 

The US team has only been together for eight days however with the level of talent on this roster and familiarity that some of the players have with each other the transition to Olympic play seems seamless. There are nine players from the 2012 Olympic run in London. Head Coach Geno Auriemma did speak about the difficult task of winning a gold medal and preached to his team and media that because the margin of defeat were large in many of the exhibition games it would not be easy.

 

The Minnesota Lynx are well represented on the US roster as four of their starters are on the team. Maya Moore, Sylvia Fowles, Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus all play important roles for the national team. There are also five players that have played for coach Auriemma at the University of Connecticut. Tina Charles, Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore, Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart are all UCONN alumni.

 

“I’m thrilled that we have four players because that says a lot about where our team has come from….” – Seimone Augustus

 

 

This is Tamika Catchings’ last Olympic run as she is set to retire after this season. She spoke about her role on this team and on past rosters. She is looking forward to going out and having fun and enjoying the experience in Rio.

 

“Trying to be that vet…allow them (teammates) to be great… we have a lot of great young talent…” – Tamika Catchings

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Tamika Catchings plays in her last olympics. Photo: Sherman Gomez for PureSportsNY

 

In the first quarter Australia hung close to the US as they came out a little sluggish however Maya Moore and Elena Delle Donne came out hot and paced the team offensively. Moore had 8-points in the opening period while Delle Donne was hot throughout and had 11-points at the end of the first. The crowd was loud and boisterous with many chants of USA! USA! USA! The support by the Madison Square Garden crowd was electric. They were really into the game and the players appreciated every minute of it.

 

The US team took a big lead in the second quarter going up by as many as 14 as they found their offensive rhythm. Angel McCoughtry of the Atlanta Dream also had a huge first half she had 12-points most of which came in the second quarter run. She had a very efficient game for team USA. Angel shot 4-7 from the field in about thirteen minuets of action. Delle Donne continued her scoring prowess, she tallied 17-points at the half to lead team USA. Team USA led the half 54-48 at the half.

 

“Great win for us …. The biggest thing about our team is our depth.” – Elena Delle Donne on coming off the bench.

 

The third period started with three Diana Taurasi 3-pointers giving team USA a 10-point lead. Taurasi would heat up in the 3rd as she had 11-points in the period to give her 20-points at that point. The team started sharing the ball and pulled away from the visitors. Leilani Mitchell led Australia through 3 quarters with 11-points and the two WNBA players, Penny Taylor and Erin Phillips had 11-points combined. The team scored 35-points in the period and with a sustained defensive effort held the Australians to 23-points.

 

In the 4th it was much of the same US dominance. Griner imposed her will defensively and on the boards as the US eventually wore down Australia’s interior presence, she finished with 15-points. Diana Taurasi led the US with 20-points overall and with depth like this it is easy to see why the US are the favorites to bring back the gold. It can be anyone on any given night with a big game. Elena Delle Donne finished with 19-points off the bench.

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Brittney Griner and Sylvia Fowles provided USA with an interior presence

 

The Australian team could not match USA’s size on the perimeter. In the middle it was the combination of Griner and Sylvia Fowles who both took turns in the match-up against Australia’s bigs. Elizabeth Cambage scored a team high 22-points for the visiting team. She was a force in the middle and gave the US interior defense some issues early in the game. Coach Auriemma spoke about the potential problems that the US could face in the Olympics in the interior.

 

“We played a great team, they are as good as everybody thinks they are… they are a good test for us…” Geno Auriemma

 

The margin of defeat was not large by USA (standards) but the message was sent. USA is going for the gold. The players are confident as a group and did not shy away from saying that they expect to return with the gold medal.

Thank You for reading.

Sherman Gomez is a staff writer for PureSportsNY, follow him on Twitter at Sherman@shermangmz1

Email: shermangmz1@gmail.com

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