The USA Women’s National Team (11-1, 2-0) was impressive in a 91-34 win over host Argentina (0-2) on Saturday night in FIBA Pre-Olympic Qualifying play in Bahía Blanca.
The USA will conclude FIBA Pre-Olympic Qualifying action against Colombia on Sunday (4:30 p.m. EST).
The game marked a special homecoming for Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury/Connecticut), whose parents immigrated to the United States from Argentina, and the family returned for a year when Taurasi was 13. She last traveled to Argentina to play for the 2000 USA U18 National Team and was appreciative of the opportunity to return for these qualifying games.
“They’re some of the most passionate, best fans in the world,” said Taurasi, who received an energetic reception from the fans in the packed arena and a personalized Argentina jersey from the home team. “So, just to be able to play at home, this late in my career, there’s nothing like it. To be able to wear the U.S. jersey here in Argentina again, it’s pretty awesome.”
Diamond DeShields (Chicago Sky/Tennessee) scored 13 points; Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx/LSU) tallied 13 points and seven rebounds; and Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks/Stanford) had 12 points.
Rounding out the USA’s double-digit scorers, Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces/Washington) had 11 points and four assists; and A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces/South Carolina) contributed 10 points and seven rebounds. Further, Skylar Diggins-Smith (Dallas Wings/Notre Dame) scored nine points and had four steals; and Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx/LSU) finished with eight points.
Additionally, Napheesa Collier (Minnesota Lynx/Connecticut) grabbed 12 rebounds to go with nine points and Chelsea Gray (Los Angeles Sparks) dished out six of the USA’s 26 assists.
“This was a game that we were really looking forward to playing and we knew it would be a great atmosphere,” said Cheryl Reeve (Minnesota Lynx), USA co-coach for the USA’s November games. “Argentina was my scout in Puerto Rico, and I know them pretty well. They’re well coached. I like the feistiness they played with, they’re physical, they never quit, and they’re really hard to play against. I also really liked the environment here tonight.”
The USA had 32 points off of 24 Argentina turnovers, and the red, white and blue shot 61.2% from the field (41-67 FGs), while limiting Argentina to 19.4% shooting (14-72 FGs). The USA also outrebounded Argentina 48-40, including 43-25 on the defensive end.
The USA scored the first six points of the game and built a 19-9 lead after the first quarter.
In the second period, the USA began to put the game away. The USA opened the quarter with an 8-0 run and finished with a 13-0 stretch to lead 44-13 at halftime.
“Every time I’ve played in Argentina, the fans have always been engaged,” said DeShields. “It’s nice to see people who are passionate about basketball all over the world. Shout out to their fans. It was awesome to play in front of them, it was really fun for us tonight. Any time you play the host country, it’s always a big, high energy game. We knew that coming in, but we still hadn’t put a great four quarters together. That was our goal as a team. We wanted to play a full 40 minutes of high-energy basketball and I think we did that. It was a fun game.”
The USA continued to widen the margin in the second half, outscoring Argentina 26-8 in the third period and 21-13 in the fourth quarter to earn the 91-34 win.
“Our defensive rebounding was terrific and that led to the ability to get the ball up the court quickly, which led to great plays,” added Reeve. “It was a great game for us overall. Obviously, we saw these teams in Puerto Rico at the AmeriCup and we had some good knowledge on these teams from back in September. But I really thought that coming into these games, we were trying to build on our chemistry, and I thought this was one of our best games, in terms of putting it all together.”
The USA recorded 32 points off of 24 turnovers.
Arike Ogunbowale (Dallas Wings/Notre Dame), who was ill, and Sue Bird (Seattle Storm/Connecticut), who had back spasms, did not play. They are both listed as day-to-day.
The 2019-20 USA National Team is 11-1 overall, having previously earned a 6-0 mark and gold medal in September at the FIBA AmeriCup and a 3-1 record in its fall college exhibition schedule.
“I know Dee hasn’t been back here in a while, but she’s one of the greatest to play the game. Period,” concluded DeShields. “To be a part of this with her and to share that moment with her is something I’ll never forget. It was really, really cool to see.”