Recording 31 assists as a team and getting 22 points from Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx), the USA (2-0) women defeated Colombia (1-2) 88-46 at the 2019 FIBA AmeriCup on Tuesday afternoon in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The USA had three other team members score in double-digits, including Stefanie Dolson (Chicago Sky), with 13 points on a perfect 6-of-6 from the floor; Napheesa Collier (Minnesota Lynx) with 11 points; and Olivia Nelson-Ododa (University of Connecticut) with 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
Additionally, Jordin Canada (Seattle Storm) contributed eight assists; Tina Charles (New York Liberty), who scored six points, passed off for seven assists; and Arike Ogunbowale (Dallas Wings) dished out five dimes to go with five points and six caroms.
Standing four inches taller on average than the Colombian squad, the U.S. used its size to its advantage to win the rebounding battle 54-22 and score 54 points inside the paint.
“We got off to a slower start than we did in the first game,” said Dawn Staley, USA National Team and University of South Carolina head coach. “But as the game picked up, our defense really disrupted and bothered them. If we could just eliminate that slow start, I think we’d be good. Our offense was a little bit stagnant today. That was probably because of what we were doing defensively. We were (playing) a half-court defense. The pace wasn’t as quick as we wanted it. But we got a win, and we got better on the defensive side so, (we made) small steps.”
The USA will play Argentina (0-1) at 5:30 p.m. (all times listed are EDT) on Sept. 25 and will close preliminary play against Brazil (2-0) at 3 p.m. on Sept. 26. All of the USA games will be shown live on ESPN+.
Colombia led 9-8 early on, but the USA put together an 11-0 run to begin to pull away and led 21-11 after the first quarter.
Fowles helped the USA establish its inside presence from the start, scoring 12 of the USA’s first 15 points in the paint.
“Sylvia is a dominant post player due to her size and her skills,” said Dolson. “So, it was easy for us to get her the ball because she was much taller than most of the other players.”
After shooting just 28.6% from the field (4-14 FGs) in the first quarter, Colombia improved to 42.9% in the second period, but the USA continued to widen its lead and was ahead 44-26 at halftime.
At the midway point, the USA had turned 12 Colombia turnovers into 12 points, and 32 of the USA’s 44 points had been scored inside the key.
The USA continued to widen the gap in the second half, outscoring Colombia 24-13 in the third and 20-7 in the fourth quarter on its way to the 88-46 win.
“We’re selfless, and that speaks volumes to our team,” said Canada. “We have so many great players on this team, and the fact that we can share the ball and we’re very efficient, that speaks volumes, being able to share the ball, move it and knock down shots.”
The USA finished the game shooting 54.4% percent from the field (37-68 FGs) and 42.9% from 3-point (6-14 3pt FGs), and it held Colombia, which finished with 15 turnovers, to 30.5% from the field (18-59 FGs) and 27.8% from 3-point for the game.
“We had a lot of turnovers,” said Fowles, who shot 11-of-13 from the field. “Most of them were unforced. It’s just slowing down and stop trying to make the home run play would be okay. Our defense picked up as we went along. For the most part I think we did alright. We pretty much got every shot that we wanted. We played together and shared the ball well.”
In the other Group B game today, Paraguay (0-2) faces Argentina at 5:30 p.m. In Group A action, Cuba (1-2) defeated Dominican Republic (1-1) 65-62 and host Puerto Rico (1-0) takes on Canada (2-0) at 8 p.m.
“Argentina is the same type of team,” said Staley on the USA’s next opponent. “They’re going to pressure us. They’re going to deny us a little bit more. I’m glad that we’re seeing a lot of different defenses as we continue on in this tournament. Hopefully, we can take our time and pick people apart. If we get too quick in front of ourselves, we could turn that basketball over, but this team has always made adjustments and executed out of those adjustments.”
Ten nations are taking part in the 2019 AmeriCup, with the top eight finishing teams advancing to a Nov. 10-18 FIBA Americas Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament (site TBA).
Following preliminary play, the top two teams from each group advance to the Sept. 28 semifinals. The gold and bronze medal games will be held Sept. 29.
Dan Hughes (Seattle Storm), Cheryl Reeve (Minnesota Lynx) and Jennifer Rizzotti (George Washington), who assisted the USA to a gold medal at the 2018 FIBA World Cup, are serving as assistant coaches.
The USA National Team, which already has qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, will take advantage of and participate in FIBA’s new Olympic qualification process, that provides nations with two windows of competition, Nov. 10-18, 2019, and Feb. 2-10, 2020.
As was the case over the past three quadrenniums, the 2019-20 USA National Team roster, which currently lists 34 athletes, will be fluid. It is expected that the official, 12-member 2020 U.S. Olympic Team will be comprised of players from the 2019-20 USA National Team.
Chaired by USA Women’s National Team director Carol Callan, USA AmeriCup Team athletes were selected by the USA Basketball Women’s National Team Player Selection Committee, which currently includes three-time Olympic and two-time World Cup gold medalist Katie Smith as the athlete representative; representing the WNBA is Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller and Los Angeles Sparks general manager Penny Toler; and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma, who coached USA teams to gold medals at the past two Olympics and FIBA World Cups, serves as a special advisor.