Appel, Wiggins Lead U.S. Into Pan American Medal Round

July 23, 2007

Overall Statistics (as of July 23)

STANFORD, Calif.- Junior Candice Wiggins (San Diego, Calif.) and freshman Jayne Appel (Pleasant Hill, Calif.) continue to impress on the international stage, leading the United States team into the medal round at the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The United States (3-0) will play Canada in today's medal round semifinals at the Rio Multipurpose Arena, while unbeaten host Brazil will meet Cuba.

The latest U.S. victory was a 78-63 victory over two-time defending Pan Am champ Cuba on Sunday night, as Marissa Coleman tallied a team-high 19 points.

The United States and Cuba entered Sunday's contest with perfect 2-0 records and the U.S women began their third game of the competition with something they hadn't experienced yet - a deficit.

After recording wins by margins of 54 and 31 points, the United States faced its first test of the Pan Ams as Cuba jumped out an early lead and went on to open a seven point first quarter lead.

The U.S. chipped away at Cuba's lead and managed to cut the margin to three following a pair of free throws by Wiggins, who chipped in with six points. The U.S. took a 14-13 lead late in the first quarter on a field goal by Charde Houston and never again relinquished its advantage.

'Cuba was a good basketball team and we didn't play our best basketball tonight so I think it says a lot about our team - to that some point - that we were down, but we fought hard to recapture the lead and keep the lead,' said Tasha Humphrey, who added 10 points and was tied for a team-best six rebounds. 'We knew they had a lot of experience and we knew that they weren't just going to lay down and die for us, so we came in, we were focused and we prepared mentally for a tough challenge.'

Though Cuba cut the United States' lead to just two points on two different occasions in the second quarter, the young American squad kept their composure and built a comfortable 36-24 lead going into halftime.

The United States broke the game open in the third quarter. Outscoring Cuba 11-6 over the first half of the third quarter to take a 47-30 advantage, the USA went on to open a 20 point lead, thanks in large part to Humphrey who added nine of her 10 points in the third quarter.

The U.S. put the game out of reach outscoring Cuba 10-4 to start the final period and sailed in for the impressive 16 point victory.

'Coming into the competition, we knew we were going to play against very experienced, older players and our mindset has to be that we have to wear them out,' said USA head coach Dawn Staley. 'I don't think there is a team here that is as talented as the 12 people we brought down here. Now they may have played together longer than we have, they may have more experience than we have, but as far as talent for talent, I think we win out. We've been tested, but, we came here to win gold [medal] and until that happens, we're not going to be satisfied.'

Holding Cuba to 37.7 percent shooting overall, including just 4-of-20 from 3-point, the U.S. forced Cuba to turn the ball over 22 times in the contest while recording 14 steals.

Joining Coleman in double figure scoring was Angel McCoughtry, 13 points, and Humphrey, 10 points.

Yaima Boulet led Cuba's effort with 19 points and nine rebounds.

In other women's basketball action Sunday, Brazil improved to 3-0 with a 77-63 win over Canada (1-2), Jamaica (1-2) defeated Mexico (0-3) 69-45; and Columbia posted its first win, beating Argentina 58-56.

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