Olympic Recap: USA vs Angola

Fourteen points, 12 rebounds and a U.S. Women’s Olympic single-game record four blocked shots from Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks) helped lead the 2012 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team (2-0) past Angola (0-2) in a 90-38 win in the 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Park Basketball Arena on Monday night in London, England.

Capitalizing on a size and speed advantage, the U.S. tallied 40 points in the paint and raced to 23 fast-break points as all 11 available U.S. players had scored by the 4:06 mark in the third quarter. Buoyed by five assists from Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) as well as four apiece from Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) and Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota Lynx), the USA totaled 25 assists on 36 made baskets and won the battle on the boards 49-35.

“It’s important that in a game where you know that there is that disparity that you just do the things you need to do to be a better team; to work hard; to make sure we get the kind of ball movement we want; make sure we get the shots we want,” said Geno Auriemma, USA and University of Connecticut head coach. “The fact that we had 25 assists on 36 baskets, that’s an incredible number. I think that’s the kind of team we have. I wanted us to get better from Saturday’s game, and I thought we did.”

Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx) had 13 points, Moore added 11 points and Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream) tallied 10 points. The USA shot a red-hot 69.0 percent from inside the arc and 54.5 percent overall (36-66 FGs). Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky) was resting a sore left foot and did not play tonight.

“I think that Coach and the team is looking for me being confident and playing with intensity,” Parker said. “I think that’s my biggest thing is sometimes I get in my own head. I think tonight, he just gave me two things to do: just rebound and run the ball. We’re going to play defense but I tried to focus on that and my teammates did a good job of getting me the ball.”

The USA opened the game by pounding the ball inside, which helped it to shoot 6-of-9 from the field to start, and the score was 15-9 when Angola called its first timeout at 2:58. All 11 players recorded minutes in the first period, and the USA’s fresh legs helped it take a 22-12 lead at the first break.

The USA held Angola to just six points in the second period as its offense raced to 19 of its own thanks to scores from seven different players. A jumper from Bird at 4:59 kicked off an 11-0 run that ended when Angola scored at 2:06 with the USA leading 37-16. By the time the USA headed to the locker room up 41-18, Parker had neared her double-double with eight points and nine rebounds.
The USA was a bit careless with the ball in the first half, committing 11 turnovers. The team cleaned up its act in the second half, however, committing just three more, while Angola went on to finish with 21.

“For us, it’s really about how we play,” Bird said. “We’re not really worried about the competition. Obviously we talk about them and prepare, but it’s more about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, no matter what the score is. We can really use games like this to get to know each other better and to learn because the training time has been limited.”

Two unanswered scoring spurts helped the USA outscore Angola 28-11 in the third quarter. Opening with an 8-0 run, Angola interrupted with four points before the USA unleashed a 12-0 streak, and at the 1:27 mark the USA led 65-25. Both teams scored four more points to head into the final stanza with the USA up by 40 points, 69-29.

With the game’s outcome long ago decided, the USA outscored Angola 21-9 to reach its largest lead of the game, 52 points, and bring the game to its 90-38 final.

“We watched video of the Croatia game and we saw a lot of things we needed to improve on and whether we were playing Angola, or the Czech Republic or Australia, tonight was going to be a night where we felt like we were going to get better at the things we were inconsistent with against Croatia,” said Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx). “So tonight was preparation for the next night and the next night after that.”

Angola’s Sonia Guadalupe was her team’s leading scorer with 11 points.

Also today in preliminary round Group A, China (2-0) downed Croatia (0-2) 83-58, and Turkey (2-0) edged Czech Republic (0-2) 61-57.

In Group B, France (2-0) upset Australia (1-1) in overtime 74-70, Russia (2-0) beat Brazil (0-2) 69-59 and Canada (1-1) bested host Great Britain (0-2) 73-65.

The USA next will play a rematch of sorts against Turkey, which the U.S. beat 80-61 in exhibition on July 22, at 10:15 p.m. (5:15 p.m. EDT) on Aug. 1, followed by the Czech Republic at 10:15 p.m. (5:15 EDT) on Aug. 3 and a final preliminary round game against China 4:45 p.m. (10:45 a.m. EDT) on Aug. 5.

The quarterfinals take place on Aug. 7, the semifinals on Aug.9 and the gold medal game on Aug. 11.

Auriemma is assisted by DePaul University’s Doug Bruno, Jennifer Gillom of the Washington Mystics and Marynell Meadors of the Atlanta Dream.