Fowles and USA Basketball In China

Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky) and Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles Sparks) combined for 36 points and 32 rebounds as the 2007-08 USA Basketball Women's National Team (2-1) upped its record to 2-1 with a dominating 92-56 victory over South Korea (1-2) on Monday afternoon at the 2008 Good Luck Beijing Tournament in China. Fowles led all scorers with 20 points, while Leslie was the game's leading rebounder with 12. Also scoring in double digits were Katie Smith (Detroit Shock) and Candice Wiggins (Minnesota Lynx) with 11 points apiece.

In other games, Cuba (2-1) went up early and held on for a 60-52 win over Australia (1-2), while host China (2-0) will take on New Zealand (0-2) in the day’s third and final contest. The U.S. will face New Zealand on

April 23 at 10:15 p.m. (10:15 a.m. EDT) and closes out preliminary play against China on April 24 at 8:00 p.m. (8:00 a.m. EDT). The USA versus China contest will be televised live by NBA TV, which will air the game again that day at 4:00 p.m. EDT.

“With Korea averaging close to 80 points a game we knew we had to come in extremely focused defensively,” said USA head coach Anne Donovan. “We set goals to try to minimize how much they scored and we were successful. I’m really pleased with our defensive effort.

“We have added players as we’ve gone along. We added Taj McWilliams-Franklin right before our first game and today we added another guard to our roster (Kara Lawson) and that’s really helped us with rotations and substitutions. That was a big difference tonight. Having Kara Lawson come off the bench and give us some good minutes in the perimeter really helped all of our rotations all the way around. We didn’t have to play Lisa Leslie and Taj out of position at the three.”

Korea struck first and was up 13-10 with 4:03 to play in the first quarter. On the USA’s next trip down the court Taj McWilliams-Franklin (Los Angeles Sparks) scored a put-back, sparking a 13-0 scoring spurt that left the U.S. up 23-13 at the end of the first stanza.

While the red, white and blue never again trailed, the undersized Koreans went to their bread and butter outside game, hitting three 3-pointers to keep pace in the second quarter. When the halftime buzzer sounded the USA’s lead was not yet out of reach, 39-28.

South Korea managed to cut the gap to eight points, 50-42 with 14:22 remaining in the game, but that was as close as it would get. Stepping up their defense and moving the ball around like a well-oiled machine, the Americans reeled off 11 unanswered points, nine of which were assisted and one bucket coming from an offensive board, to take a commanding 61-42 lead with one quarter to play.

Kara Lawson (Sacramento Monarchs), who dished out six assists playing in her first game after joining the team immediately following her honeymoon, hit a 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter. Korea answered with a three, but Smith countered that by draining her second long ball of the game and the U.S. continued to out-gun the Koreans for a 31-14 margin in the fourth.

“They normally do a lot of cutting and running and shooting, which is what they tried to do today,” said McWilliams-Franklin, who contributed nine points and eight rebounds. “They’re so small inside that they have to pull you outside and I think our posts did a great job of getting in the stance and defending them because they’re really good on that cut, dive, pass and move motion that most Asian teams are famous for. Korea was just a touch of what China will do and China has more bigs, so it prepared us a little for our upcoming game against China.”

Fowles, who shot 9-of-12 from the field and finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, earned her double-double by the halftime buzzer.

Sun Min Jung and Yeon Ha Beon scored 13 points apiece, while Youn Ah Choi added 11 points.

To say that the U.S. dominated in nearly every facet of the game would be an understatement. Scoring 56 points in the paint, as compared to Korea’s 18, the USA cleaned the glass for a whopping 57-18 rebounding advantage, including 23-6 on the offensive boards. The U.S. made 52.7 percent (39-74 FGs) of its attempts, while limiting Korea to 37.5 percent (24-64 FGs).

On April 26 FIBA, the International Basketball Federation, will host the 2008 Olympic draw (5:30 a.m. EDT) at the Wukesong Arena between the bronze (3:15 a.m. EDT) and gold medal (8:00 a.m EDT) games.

NBA TV will televise live the USA’s final game on April 26, and will re-air that contest at 4:00 p.m. (EDT).