The USA Women’s National Team (14-1) wrapped up its winter 2020 college series with a 97-54 victory over No. 5-ranked University of Louisville in an exhibition game on Sunday afternoon at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
Featuring a balanced scoring attack that saw 11 of the USA’s 12 active players score, Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx/Louisiana State) led the USA offensive effort sinking 8-of-9 shots and finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. Stewart added 13 points and six rebounds, and two-time Olympic and two-time World Cup gold medalist Angel McCoughtry(Atlanta Dream/Louisville), who starred for four years at Louisville (2006-09), finished with 11 points in her homecoming.
“I actually was a little nervous. This was my first time playing in the states again and the first game’s in Louisville, so I got a little nervous. But, once I got out there and saw all the love everyone was giving I was like, ‘what’s there to be nervous about?’ There is so much love in this building. So, I loosened up and had a lot of fun.”
Although the USA National Team found itself trailing 21-17 after the game’s first 10 minutes, the Americans found their stride in the second quarter and outscored Louisville 28-9 to propel the USA to a 45-30 lead at halftime.
“I thought that their starting unit, even against our starting unit, was pretty competitive,” said USA co-coach Dan Hughes (Seattle Storm). “What turns the tide a lot of times with us is our depth, and the reality of (having) that many good players. Our depth is really special.”
Behind seven points from Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm/Connecticut), the USA opened the second period with a 20-2 scoring barrage to take control 37-23 with 4:52 to go in the quarter.
The USA amped up its defense in the second stanza and limited Louisville to just nine points and 4-of-16 shooting, while on the offensive end the U.S. found its shooting touch and made 13-of-18 from the field in the quarter.
“Today was a great game,” said Fowles, who has played in all 15 of the 2019-20 USA National Team’s contests. “Louisville came out and pretty much gave us a run for our money. We kind of had to shift things a little be to get things going the way we wanted, but once we started clicking, everything was pretty much on the up and up for us. I’m happy we had a successful college tour and I’m ready to go to Serbia.”
Outscoring Louisville 20-18 in the third quarter, the U.S. took a 65-48 lead into the final quarter and out-performed the Cardinals 32-6 in the final 10 minutes to seal the 97-54 victory.
February 5 marks the 34th Annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day, and to celebrate the day, each year Louisville pays tribute to someone for their efforts in advancing women in the game. At halftime today, Louisville honored USA Basketball Women’s National Team director Carol Callan for her tireless work in helping to inspire girls and women to be their best.
“The tribute for Carol was amazing,” said McCoughtry. “I am so proud of everything she’s done. To be able to be a part of her being honored was the best. Blessings to Carol and all she’s done, she has many more years to do even more incredible things. I’m proud to have been a part of Carol’s legacy.”
The USA finished the afternoon hitting 44-of-77 shots (.532 percentage) from the field, and had assists on 29 of those 44 made field goals. Louisville, which made 8-of-17 shots in the first quarter, finished shooting 22-of-60 (.367 percentage).
The USA also held 41-35 edge in rebounding.
“I’m just supportive of all these young women throughout these college games,” added Fowles. “It shows how the future of the WNBA is going to keep getting brighter, it’s all so amazing. We have great talent across the board and going and playing some of the best college teams is amazing. I’m looking forward to seeing what these players will do in our league.”
The 2019-20 USA National Team’s 15-1 record includes a 6-0 mark and gold medal at the FIBA AmeriCup in Puerto Rico, a 3-0 record at the FIBA Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Argentina and a 5-1 slate in exhibition games against college teams.
The USA will move on to Belgrade, Serbia to compete in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament Feb. 6-9. The USA opens against host Serbia on Feb 6, takes on Mozambique Feb. 8 and closes against Nigeria on Feb. 9. All three games will tip at 2 p.m. EST and will stream on ESPN+. The American women, winners of the last six Olympic gold medals, have already qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by virtue of capturing the 2018 FIBA World Cup.