Ebony Hoffman Leads U.S. To First Round Victory Over Venezuela, 100-40

July 17, 2002

RIBEIR�O PRETO, Brazil - Thanks to a U.S. charge led by USC junior forward Ebony Hoffman, who scored a game-high 17 points and added eight rebounds and two blocked shots, the 2002 USA Basketball World Championship For Young Women Qualifying Team (1-0) defeated Venezuela, 100-40. Opening the inaugural Confederation of Pan American Basketball Associations (COPABA) World Championship For Young Women Qualifying Tournament, the U.S. vexed Venezuela (0-1) into shooting a chilling 20.5 percent (15-73 FGs) from the field, on Wednesday afternoon at the COC University gymnasium in Ribeirao Preto, Brazil.

The USA, which was placed in Group A with Argentina, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, was scheduled to play the Dominican Republic on July 18. However, the island nation withdrew from the competition, leaving Group A with three teams. Following a bye tomorrow, the United States is slated to complete pool play on July 19 against Argentina, which was off today due to the three-team pool. In other preliminary round action, Canada led Puerto Rico 22-19 at the half, while Brazil plays Costa Rica at 8:15 p.m. (all times local)

'Venezuela came out and played really hard,'said USA and Texas Tech University head coach Marsha Sharp. 'They were really scrappy, particularly early, but our depth wore them down. We platooned into two sets and let our players play five minutes at a time. As the game went on, that wore them down a little bit. Early in the game they had some good sets. They weren't very big, the biggest players that they had were 5-11. They ran a five-out offense, so it made our post players get out on the perimeter and guard a little bit. For us, it's something we don't see much in the States. They really had to adjust, more so than any other players on the defensive end. It was a good game for us to play though, we had to defend some things that we're not used to defending.'

The U.S. set the tone early and after Nicole Ohlde (Kansas State / Clay Center, Kan.) won the tip-off, Cappie Pondexter (Rutgers / Chicago, Ill.) got the ball into Laurie Koehn's (Kansas State / Hesston, Kan.) hands, who shot a nothing-but-net 3-pointer after only 10 seconds had elapsed. The United States, which led from wire-to-wire, received its first 11 points from a pair of Wildcats as Koehn would eventually shoot an additional pair of 3-pointers while the U.S. got a layup from Ohlde and at 6:15 the USA led 11-7. The USA's defensive pressure forced missed shots by the Venezuelans, allowing one field goal over the remainder of the quarter. On the offensive end, the red, white and blue got contributions from six different players in a 15-4 run during that span and as the first buzzer sounded, the United States held a 26-11 upper hand.

Hoffman scored nine points as the U.S. opened the second quarter on a 15-3 run, which all but put the game away 41-14 with 5:25 remaining before halftime. Venezuela's Jesi Tovar made one of two free throws at 5:06 to end a nearly four-minute scoring dry spell by the South Americans. By the end of the first half, the United States had pulled away for a commanding 55-25 advantage.

'Venezuela is a really tough team,' said Hoffman. 'They came out and played really hard and it was a tough game for our first game. It was a tough game, they're really scrappy, they were scrappier than Brazil. It was a really good game for us though, I think we played well. I felt good out there, better than in our first two games.'

Ohlde and Hoffman combined for all 10 points in a 10-0 United States run to open the third quarter and the remainder of the second half mirrored the first as the USA continued to increase its lead to the eventual 100-40 victory.

In addition to Hoffman's 17 points, the USA team effort was aided by 14 from USA co-captain Koehn, Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota / Hutchinson, Minn.) scored 13 on a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and 2-of-2 from the line, and Kara BrownBraxton (Georgia / Jackson, Mich.) added 10 points. Hoffman and Stacy Stephens (Texas / Winnsboro, Texas ) swatted three blocked shots each as the U.S. was credited with a total of 10 blocks. USA co-captain Pondexter passed off for a game high seven assists, surpassing Venezuela's team total of five, while Shameka Christon (Arkansas / Hot Springs, Ark.) had six, and Whalen and Brown-Braxton dished out five and four assists, respectively. Leading the USA's rebounding charge was Ohlde with nine, while Brown-Braxton and Hoffman grabbed eight apiece.

Receiving 53 of its 100 points from the bench, the USA shot a sizzling 56.0 percent from the field, while limiting its opponents to just 20.5 percent. Winning the battle of the boards 53-30, the United States passed off for a stellar 34 assists on its 42 field goals. As a team the U.S. claimed a victory in all categories but one as the Venezuelans had 21 turnovers compared to the USA's 22.

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