U.S. Pan Am Games Team Falls To Australia In Exhibition Contest

July 19, 2003

BOSTON, Mass. - After only two days of practice since arriving in Boston for a series of 'friendly' matches against the Australian and Brazilian Young Women World Championship teams, the U.S. Pan American Games Team (0-1) barely lost to Australia (2-1), 78-70 in the closing minutes of the game on Saturday.

The U.S. was led in points by Stanford's Nicole Powell (Phoenix, AZ) and Jenni Benningfield of Vanderbilt, who each accounted for 12 points, while Rebekkah Brunson of Georgetown finished with 10.

Powell started at forward and was 5-of-10 from the floor (2-of-3 from 3-point range) in 24 minutes of action. She also had four rebounds (one offensive), four assists, two blocked shots, two steals, one foul and one turnover.

The Pam Am team continues exhibition play on Sunday, July 20 against Brazil at Northeastern University's Matthews Arena with a tipoff slated for 1 p.m. EDT.

'We started the first quarter off well and played well the last half of the second quarter,' said USA Pan American Games Team and University of Virginia head coach Debbie Ryan. 'We played a really good two-three zone and man-to-man but in the third quarter our players just got really tired because they're not used to this. It's going to take a little bit of time for them to get used to playing this fast and it's going to take some more time to get the offense flowing because we've only been together for two days. I expect everything to be fine, we just need to work on our timing.'

Behind Benningfield and Powell's offensive domination, things looked optimistic in the first quarter after the pair scored the first 12 points for the U.S. and took a one-point lead, 12-11, at the 6:03 mark. However, Australia stood strong and after a made jumper by Shelley Hammonds the Aussies took the lead, 20-18 at 0:43, and finished the quarter ahead, 22-18.

Upping its defensive effort, the Americans put up an impressive second period in which they limited Australia to 4-of-11 shooting overall while outscoring their opponents 17-9. The U.S. squad finished the half with a slight 35-31 advantage over Australia heading to into the break.

Veteran USA Basketball forward Powell opened the second stanza by connecting on back-to-back 3-pointers which gave the U.S. team its largest lead of the game with a 10-point margin at 7:03. However, the Aussies answered back and tied the score, 45-45, when Musselwhite rebounded the ball and finished with a trey. She then grabbed a rebound and put in a jumper to take the lead at 47-45 with 3:30 remaining.

After a head-to-head defensive battle under the basket, both teams fought to stay in the game and thanks to perfect free throw percentage by the entire U.S. team, the score remained tight after Janel McCarville (Minnesota / Stevens Point, Wis.) and Barbara Turner (Connecticut / Cleveland, Ohio) completed all four shots at the charity stripe to closely trail Australia 53-52 at the end of the period.

USA's Loree Moore (Tennessee / Harbor City, Calif.) opened the final quarter with a layup right away to give the USA a 54-53 advantage and after a Moore jumper at 7:10, the U.S. still held onto a one-point lead, 59-58. However, the Australians answered back when Musselwhite sank a 3-pointer with 6:58 to go giving them a 61-59 lead and it appeared the U.S. was finished. But with 1:35 left to go, Iciss Tillis (Duke / Tulsa, Okla.) completed a 3-pointer off an Ann Strother (Connecticut / Castle Rock, Colo.) assist, to pull the U.S. within four points at 74-70. After a turnover on the Americans part in the next possession, the Australians threw the ball the length of the court and Tillis intercepted the pass but the team could not convert a basket and the U.S. never gained the lead again as the Australian's World Championship For Young Women Team slid past the USA Pan Am team 78-70.

In a display of depth and balance, 10 of the 12 USA players scored. In addition to Benningfield and Powell, Brunson was the only other U.S. player to score in double-figures after topping off at 10 points and a team high eight rebounds.

Australia's Hollie Grima paced both teams with 22 points and Michelle Musselwhite accounted for 18 points.

In the USA Women's Pan American Games Team debut, the team shot 40.0 percent (28-70 FGs) overall from the field, and made 5-of-15 3-pointers (33.3 percent) and finished with a spectacular 100 percent made free throws (9-9 FTs).

--- Story courtesy of USA Basketball

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