U.S. Pan Am Games Team Drops Second Straight In Cuba

July 24, 2003

HAVANA, Cuba - On a night where the USA's starting five struggled on the offensive end and combined to shoot just 15.3 percent (6-39 FGs) overall from the field, the USA Pan American Games Team suffered its second straight loss to Cuba 57-45 Wednesday night in Havana, Cuba. Despite only scoring 13 points in the entire first half, the U.S. rallied back to within nine points late in the fourth quarter but couldn't get any closer. Barbara Turner (Connecticut / Cleveland, Ohio) was the only USA player to finish in double figure scoring with 13 points.

The two teams will conclude their three game exhibition series on Thursday, July 24, at 9 p.m. (EDT) at Coliseo De La Ciudad Deportiva (Havana, Cuba). The U.S. team will practice on July 25, in Cuba before heading back to Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, July 26, to begin training camp there.

'I think with any team you are going to have a little bit of a down period,' said USA Pan American Games Team and University of Virginia head coach Debbie Ryan. 'I know that this is preparing us for the Pan Am games and we couldn't have better preparation. Really, we just need a few days of practice to get some things together in order to know what we can and cannot use. The players are doing the best they can with six days of preparation. It's a hard situation for them, but I think we've been really positive and have not let them get down and we are not worrying about winning or losing right now. We are focusing on getting better every day.'

The U.S. dug itself a hole right from the beginning as Cuba raced to a 12-2 lead. In the first seven minutes of the game, the U.S. managed just one made basket and by the end of the first quarter the scoreboard showed Cuba fully in control 20-7.

The USA's offensive struggles continued in the second quarter. Missing easy layups and open jumpers, the U.S. connected on only three shots for six points the entire quarter and Cuba headed to the locker room at intermission holding a 33-13 lead.

The USA outscored Cuba 18-10 in the third quarter thanks to Iciss Tillis (Duke / Tulsa, Okla.) and Roneeka Hodges (Florida State / New Orleans, La.) who hit back-to-back 3-pointers late in the quarter. For the second consecutive night, Hodges entered the game for the first time in the second half and promptly hit a 3-point basket with 3:10 showing in the quarter to pull the USA back within 12 points at 39-27. With the clock running under one minute, Turner added on two baskets and the USA entered the final campaign down 43-31.

Trailing by 12 points in the final period, Turner hit a jumper at 9:18 and after Cuba's Oyanaisis Gelis made one of two free throws, Jamie Carey (Texas / Thornton, Colo.) contributed to the USA comeback with a jumper to make the score 44-35 with 7:29 remaining. But that was as close as the United States would get as Cuba went on to take the 57-45 decision.

The USA managed to make just 27.9 percent (17-61 FGs) of its shots from the field, while Cuba sank 42.3 percent (22-52 FGs) of its shots. Yaquelin Plutin led the game in scoring with 18 points for the Cubans while Yaima Boulet contributed 16 points.

Stanford senior-to-be Nicole Powell played 28 minutes in a starting role and had 2 points (1-of-11 field; 0-of-5 3-point range) and four rebounds (one offensive). She also had three assists, two steals, two fouls and five turnovers.

Opening its training on July 17, the 2003 USA Basketball Pan American Games Team is training for the 2003 Pan American Games that will be played Aug. 2-9 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Following the three exhibition games in Cuba, the US squad will return to the United States where it will train July 2628 at the Berkeley Prep School (Tampa, Fla.) before journeying to Santo Domingo. The team will practice at 6:00 p.m. on July 26, followed by two-a-days at 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on July 27-28.

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