SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (September 26, 2019) – Behind 19 points from Diamond DeShields (Chicago Sky), the USA (4-0) earned the No. 1 seed for Group B after defeating previously unbeaten Brazil (3-1) 89-73 on Thursday afternoon in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The U.S. advances to the medal semifinal and will play host Puerto Rico (2-1), which mathematically clinched the No. 2 seed out of Group A, on Sept. 28 (8 p.m. EDT). The USA’s final two games will be shown live on ESPN+.
The USA offense was also aided by Tina Charles (New York Liberty), who finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds for the double-double. Jordin Canada (Seattle Storm) added 12 points and six assists, and Katie Lou Samuelson (Chicago Sky) posted 11 points.
“Historically speaking, Brazil’s always been great,” said Dawn Staley, USA National Team and University of South Carolina head coach. “They’ve always been great against us. We didn’t think it was going to be any different today. So, when you play against a team like Brazil, you’re going to be challenged in a lot of different ways. They have some experience. Their post players are probably two of the best in the world. So, we knew we were going to be challenged in that way.
“Anytime we go into a tournament for USA Basketball, (our depth is) the separator for us,” she added. “If we only had five or seven players, I think countries would make it a lot more difficult to win basketball games. What separates us is our ability to call on anybody’s number down that bench. More times than not, they’ve answered the call and they’ve done it in a way in which we’re proud and they’re proud of their performance.”
“It was good,” said DeShields. “I feel that we’re one of the better teams here, so it was nice to match-up with another team and have a closer game like that before we get into the medal round.”
The USA scored first and never trailed in the game. Behind four points from DeShields and two from Charles, the USA opened a 6-2 lead. Brazil closed the gap to 8-7, but the U.S. went on a 5-0 run to open a 13-7 advantage and after completion of the first period the Americans owned a 24-16 lead.
Outscoring Brazil 29-24 in the second stanza, the U.S. buffered its lead to 53-40 at halftime, with 15 points coming from DeShields.
“Diamond’s first step, I’ve never seen anything like it before,” said Canada. “She’s super quick. She can get to the basket in one or two steps. When we have somebody like that, you can just kick it up to them and watch them do their thing. So, I’m glad we have Diamond on our team.”
Forcing Brazil into 5-of-16 shooting in the third quarter, the U.S. continue to expand on its lead and with 10 minutes to play in the game the USA owned a 71-52 lead and continued to hold a double-digit lead through the end of the contest.
“Through my tenure with USA Basketball, I know that Brazil is going to give you their everything,” said Charles. “They’re an emotional team. They feed off of each other. So, the way (Damiris) Dantas played, (Erika) De Souza, those two are really big for them, and they did a good job.”
The U.S. shot 55.2 percent from the floor, while Brazil managed to make 46.8 percent of its shots.
Both teams committed 14 turnovers, however, the U.S. outscored Brazil 19-5 in points off of turnovers.
The Americans were also strong on the glass, outrebounding Brazil 41-24 and outscoring their opponents 14-0 in second-chance points.
Brazil’s veteran duo of Dantas, 16 points, and De Souza, 13 points, led their side in scoring.
“It’s always tough to play the home team because they bring fans and they bring energy,” said DeShields of the USA’s semifinal opponent. “We know how much it means to represent your country, especially on your home turf. So, we’ve got to come and be us, play our game and I think we’ll be fine.”