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(photo courtsey NBAE via Getty Images)

Monday August 11, 2008Milton-Jones and USA Olympic Team Cruise Past Host China, 108-63

BEIJING, China

(photo courtsey NBAE via Getty Images)

 

Former Gator All-American DeLisha Milton-Jones and the U.S. Womenís Olympic Team (2-0) jumped on host country China (1-1) early and rode a 23-0 first quarter run to an easy 108-63 win Monday night at Wukesong Arena in Beijing, China.

 

Milton-Jones saw 16 minutes of action in the route, scoring two points from the free throw line and collecting a pair of rebounds along with one assist.

 

In today's other games, preliminary group B action saw Spain (1-1) topple New Zealand (1-1) 85-62, and Czech Republic (1-1) storm past Mali (0-2) 81-47. In group B play Russia (2-0) grabbed its second win against South Korea (1-1) 77-72; and Belarus (1-1) easily handled Latvia (0-2) 79-57. Australia (1-0) and Brazil (0-1) compete in tonight's final game at 10:15 p.m. local time.

 

The USA women next face Mali at 10:15 p.m. (10:15 a.m. EDT) on Aug. 13; Spain on Aug. 15 at 8:00 p.m. (8:00 a.m. EDT); and close preliminary round play against New Zealand at 10:15 p.m. (10:15 a.m. EDT) on August 17. The women's quarterfinals will be contested Aug. 19, the semifinals on Aug. 21 and the gold and bronze medal games will be played on Aug. 23.

 

Led by 27 points from Tina Thompson (Houston Comets) whose 27 points tied Cynthia Cooper and Katrina McClain for the fourth-best single-game scoring output in the women's U.S. Olympic record book, the USA was helped by 18 points and eight rebounds from Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), 12 points from Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks) and a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double from three-time Olympic gold medalist Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles Sparks).

 

"We knew that the Chinese fans were going to be loud and strong as they were last night with the men's game. So we were excited to come in and feel that energy in Wukesong, and it was not disappointing," said USA head coach Anne Donovan. "I'm really happy that we started the game stronger than we did against the Czechs. I thought that we set tempo very quickly and followed through for the 40 minutes. So, I'm pleased with the effort."

 

China's Chen Nan opened the game with four points and Bian Lan added two to help China take a 6-2 lead at 7:50 in the first period. Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) countered with an easy basket at the rim, followed by a Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) steal and fast-break layup to tie the score 6-6 at 7:22. The squads traded baskets in the next two minutes, and a 3-pointer from China brought the score to 11-10 in the host's favor at 5:48.

 

That was the last time China would score in the period or have a chance at a win, however, as the U.S. defense buckled down and its offense raced to a 23-0 run to close the period up 33-11. Thompson was the fuel to the USA's fire, scoring 13 of her 21 first half points during the stretch, including two 3-pointers and three points scored the old-fashioned way.

 

"I think it was a hard fought game. Very exciting," Thompson said. "The Chinese crowd was awesome, as usual. I was extremely proud of our team's defense. We came out, and we set the tone. We were very aggressive and that kind of created good offensive opportunities for us."

 

As the U.S. spread its 28 second-quarter points across eight players, including six from both Fowles and Thompson, China managed just 16 points in the period, and the U.S. lead ballooned to 34 points, 61-27, at the halftime intermission.

 

Eight points from Chen Nan and seven from Zhang Wei in the third quarter helped China nearly keep pace with the Americans, and the USA increased its advantage by just one point in the period to take a 81-46 lead.

 

Relying on its reserves, the USA went on to outscore China 27-17 in the final 10 minutes to bring the score to the final 108-63 tally.

 

Not only did every U.S. player score in the contest, but all 12 Americans collected at least one rebound to help the USA record a 47-30 advantage on the glass.

 

"It gives you a lot of confidence as a player to know that when you come in the game, the four other players out there with you are all excellent," said Kara Lawson (Sacramento Monarchs). "And then when you come out, you have the confidence that the player coming in for you is going to do a great job. I think you're just seeing us have a lot of fun out there, still learning to play with one another."

 

The USA shot an impressive 57.0 percent from the field (46-81 FGs), including 5-of-10 from 3-point, while holding China to 35.0 percent (22-63 FGs) overall and 25.0 percent from deep (4-16 3pt FGs).

 

The defending Olympic champs, the USA women in fact will be vying for a fourth consecutive Olympic gold. Since women's basketball was officially staged at the 1976 Olympics, the Americans have collected a record five gold medals, one silver and one bronze medal, while compiling a 42-3 (.933) overall record in seven Olympic appearances (the United States chose not to participate in the 1980 Olympic Games).

 

 

Quotes from DeLisha Milton-Jones (Florida / Los Angeles Sparks)
On the teamís preparations:
I think the Diamond Ball tournament we played in Haining was really pivotal for us in preparing for this tournament. We had great competition. We faced Australia and Latvia and they were great games--high energy, very physical, everything that we were going to face in pool play here at the Olympics.


This group of women we have here has rally put themselves into the team. We are thinking of what we can do for the team instead of what the team can do for us.

It's hard to think about it when you won by such a large margin, but how can you get better?
You can always get better. One thing that we stressed at half-time was that China had a lot of offensive rebounds. They were able to get put-backs and that put us in trouble because normally in that situation you end up fouling. Anytime you see a score like that at half-time, believe you me our coaches are going to find something for us to work on.

 

Our win was a collective effort from everyone defensively tonight. Everyone came out knowing that this game was going to be full of emotion for the China women and that the crowd was going to be into it. We wanted to alleviate all of that early. We came out and did our job defensively as a team.

 

China has some great fans. At one point in the third quarter the crowd was really trying to motivate them. It shows that they have passion for the team and for their country, and no matter what the outcome, they are going to cheer for them. But at the same time, while this crowd was still into it, our work was not done, because anything can happen in this game of basketball, especially in the Olympic setting. You can see tremendous upsets, you can see huge comebacks and I didn't want to see that happen to us today.

 

 

Recap and quotes provided by USA Basketball

 

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