Team USA Uses Strong Defense To Stay Unbeaten in World Championship

BARUERI, Brazil, Sep. 18 (Ticker) - The offense for the United States didn't carry over from last game, but the defense did.

Tina Thompson and Candace Parker scored 14 points as Team U.S.A. posted an ugly 63-50 victory over the Czech Republic for a first-place finish in Group F action.

Diana Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury added 13 for the Americans (6-0), who forced France to shoot a miserable 17 percent (5-of-30) from the floor and score just four fourth-quarter points on Sunday.

That defensive effort rolled over, as the U.S. held the Czech Republic (4-2) to 30 percent shooting (19-of-64) while forcing 22 turnovers.

"It was tough, it was a battle," said Katie Smith of the Detroit Shock. "Obviously, we weren't putting the ball in the hole as easily as we were in prior games, but Czech is a good team. Our defense was solid."

While the Americans had things clicking on one end of the floor, they ran into some issues at the offensive end, shooting just 32 percent (24-of-75) after registering a respectable 49 percent (28-of-57) against the French.

Team U.S.A. owned just a 31-28 edge at the half before taking control of this game. Taurasi found former University of Connecticut teammate and current Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird for two breakaway layups, as the U.S. scored the first nine points of the third period for a 40-28 advantage.

"From the get-go one of our gameplans was to run on them," Bird said. "There were a couple of times when I was able to leak out on them a little bit. Once I saw we had the board (rebound), I was like, 'I'm out of here.'

"A couple of times because I was contesting the shot I was already out there, so I said I might as well keep going and my teammates did a great job finding me. It was like football."

The United States led by as many as 19 points in the closing quarter, comfortably wrapping up second-round play.

"It was a difficult game for us," Team U.S. and Storm coach Anne Donovan said. "Even in the third and fourth quarters we had to struggle to win the game. I thought it was a great test for us. Many of the games have been won by large margins and a close game is a good thing for us right now."

In other Group F action, Russia (3-3) posted a 96-81 triumph over Cuba (2-4). China (3-3) won a squeaker, 66-64, over France (3-3).

Australia (6-0) coasted to an 83-49 win over Argentina (3-3), capturing the top spot in Group E. Spain (4-2) coasted to a 75-55 rout of Lithuania (3-3), and Brazil (4-2) posted a lopsided 82-41 victory over Canada (1-5).