Sunday, October 3, 2010

U.S. Women Roar into World Finals

In the quarters, it was U.S. 106 South Korea 44. In the semis, U.S. 106 Spain 70. And the #2 and #3 seeded Australia and Russia, respectively, were both upset in the quarters, so the U.S. will take on the lightly-regarded Czech Republic in today's final.

But before you start celebrating, just remember that the Czech are the home team for this FIBA world championship, and they parlayed that into a convincing win over the #2 team in the world, the Aussies, 78-69. That's a margin that is 1 point larger than the U.S. enjoyed over Australia in the second round of pool play. And like they say, "it's never an upset when the home team wins."

But the U.S. avoided upsets in its first two games of the medal round.

Against the Koreans, the U.S. ran out to 28-11 and 48-22 leads after the 1st 2 periods, then humiliated their opponents 35-7 in the 3rd period for a ridiculous 83-29 lead. Angel McCoughtrey scored 17 points and also led the Americans with 2 blocks and 2 steals. Maya Moore addfed 15 points, Candice Dupree 12 and 16 rebounds, Swin Cash 11, and Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles 10 each. The team's leading scorer, Diana Taurasi, was held to 7 points but led the way with 4 assists.

Again Spain, the Americans again ran out to an early lead, 29-16 after 1 period. It was 58-34 at the half and 87-53 after 3. Tamika Catchings scored 14, Fowles 13 with 6 rebounds, Taurasi 11 and McCoughtrey 11 with 3 steals.

The Americans secret weapon was, well, no secret, as they out-shot their opponents badly. Against Korea, it was 57 percent versus 31 percent, and against Spain it was 60 percent versus 41. Dupree continued her hot shooting, making 9-of-15 shots over the 2 games for a total so far (8 games) of 38-f0r-51, or a remarkable 74.5 percent.

The Czechs are 6-2, having lost 1 game in each round of pool play, to the Russians 55-52 and then to Spain 77-57. The upset of Australia and an OT win over Belarus followed in the medal round. As mentioned, the Czechs actually outperformed the U.S. against the Aussies, with a margin of victory of 1 point. Against the other common opponent, Belarus, things are a little different, however, as the U.S. beat Belarus 107-61 and the Czechs did so 81-77 in OT.

The Czechs are led by Eva Viteckova, their scorer with 18 ppg, and Hana Horekova, their ball-handler with 4 assists to go along with 12 points.

Today's final will be closer than you think, but the U.S. has had no let-downs at any time during the tournament. Coach Geno Auriemma has kept the women up-beat and up-tempo. And for each woman who might be having a bad day, there are 3 girls on the bench ready, willing and able to fill on. You read it here first. The U.S. wins the gold, 89-78.

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