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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Team USA Drops Pan Am Opener to Argentina, 55-58

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Photo Caption: Argentina celebrates its historic 58-55 victory over Team USA’s—its first-ever women’s basketball victory over a U.S. team—in opening day play of the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Friday, October 21.

Photo Credit: Courtesy FIBA Media Central

By Lee Michaelson

The USA Women (0-1) dropped a squeaker to Argentina (1-0), falling 55-58 in their opening contest of the 2011 Pan American Games on Oct. 21 at the CODE Dome in Guadalajara, Mexico. The game that featured six lead changes in the fourth quarter alone.

It was an historic win for Argentina, who had never previously defeated a U.S. team at any level in women’s basketball.  The Argentines were led by 18-year-old point guard Melissa Gretter, who came alive in the second quarter to help lead her team back from a 5-19 first-period deficit. Gretter finished with a game-high 21 points, including four-of-eight from long distance, to which she added five rebounds, five assists, a block and a steal. Her back-to-back three-pointers in the second stanza provided an answer to the Americans’ supremacy in the paint, shifting the momentum of the game and helping to establish a pace more to the liking of Team Argentina.

Breanna Stewart (Cicero-North Syracuse H.S./North Syracuse, N.Y.), who is just the second women’s high school basketball player to represent the United States in the Pan American Games (the first being Hall-of-Famer Nancy Lieberman), led the way for the Americans with 18 points, four blocked shots and a U.S. women’s Pan American Games record 21 rebounds.

“I think we played very, very hard, and it was an extremely physical game,” said USA head coach Ceal Barry. “All throughout, I thought we really fought hard.”

Team USA started out well enough, holding Argentina scoreless from the field for nearly eight minutes while the Americans, led by Stewart, established their inside game, running off a quick 14 points in a quarter that belonged to Stewart. The scorching U.S. defense allowed Argentina just two field-goals in the quarter, taking a 19-5 lead into the second period.

But turnovers began to take their toll on the Americans, who coughed the ball up nine times in the first 12 minutes of the game, according to USA Basketball, which corrected a box score that showed just six turnovers for Team USA in the entire game.

“I think we started out really strong, and then we let their pressure get the best of us,” said Katelan Redmon (Gonzaga/Spokane, Washington), who finished with 16 points and eight boards. “We turned the ball over, we weren’t playing our game and we just kind of gave it away to them in the second quarter. We fought hard in the third and fourth quarters, but we ran out of time,” Redmon added.

When Argentina’s Gretter nailed her back-to-back treys at the midway mark of the second period, cutting the deficit to five points, 17-22, U.S. Coach Ceal Barry, former head coach and now an athletic administrator at the University of Colorado, called her first timeout. Assisting Barry on the USA sideline are Jennifer Gillom and Debbie Ryan.

The balance of the period was relatively quiet. Christine Flores (Missouri/San Antonio, Texas) scored Team USA’s only two points in the remainder of the half, sinking two free throws out of the huddle. Argentina answered with one from the charity stripe, then cut the U.S. lead to four (24-20) on a buzzer-beater. But though the U.S. carried the lead into the break, Argentine had outscored them, 15-5, in the second period.

“I think we [got] a little too comfortable after we built that first quarter lead,” said Barry afterward. “We jumped out, and we played great defense. The group coming in off the bench wasn’t able to sustain that intensity, and that hurt us a little bit.”

“I think we settled a little bit,” added Stewart, who shot 12-of-14 from the free throw line. “We probably thought we were up and it would be an easy game, but internationally teams never give up. They are always fighting even if they are down by 40 points.”

Out of the locker room, Argentina continued the 9-0 run (its biggest of the game) that had begun before the break, seizing a 27-24 lead less than three minutes into the the third quarter.

The U.S. battled back, retaking the lead (30-29) on buckets by Valencia McFarland (Mississippi/Edwards, Miss.), who had only three points on the afternoon but celebrated her 20th birthday with a U.S. Pan American Games-record seven steals, and Shante Evans (Hofstra/West Chester, Pa.), who finished with five points and three boards.

Once again, Argentina turned to the long ball with another pair of back-to-back three-pointers that recaptured the lead for the South Americans at 35-30 with 3:50 remaining in the period. The two teams traded baskets and free throws for the remainder of the quarter, each team notching seven more points, to see the quarter close with Argentina on top, 42-37. Argentina again outscored the U.S. in the third period, 22-13.

The U.S. came out strong in the final chapter, retaking the lead, 44-42, at the 7:13 mark on a basket by Marissa Kastanek (North Carolina State/Lincoln, Neb.). The remainder of the game was a battle royal as the lead changed hands six times in the final period alone. Argentina answered quickly with a trey to make it 45-44, Argentina. Stewart scored off an offensive rebound and sank two free throws to put the U.S. back up, 48-45, roughly midway through the period. Another three from Gretter at 2:41 gave Argentina a 50-49 lead, then Redmon drove the lane to put the U.S. up by one at 2:20.

Gretter converted a traditional three-point play to make it 53-51, Argentina, with just under two minutes remaining, but Tavelyn James (Eastern Michigan/Detroit, Mich.) tied it up at 53 apiece.

Another three-ball, plus a free throw, gave Argentina a 57-53 lead heading into the final minute. Evans cut the gap to two, 55-57, with 49.1 on the clock, but that would be the last score for the Americans, who failed to capitalize on several opportunities down the stretch.

Argentina missed its next shot, but grabbed the offensive boarded and continued to run down the clock. The Americans turned to the press, and the Argentines turned it over on a back-court violation with 12.3 left. Out of a timeout, the U.S. blew a layup and was forced to foul, and Argentina made one of two from the line, to set the final margin at 58-55.

“They hit big threes in the third and fourth quarter,” Barry said. “We weren’t aggressive enough on getting out of double screens, and I thought that was a big difference; it was a momentum swinger. I don’t know how many threes they had in the second half, but it’s hard to make up the difference when you are scoring two points and giving up threes.”

Argentina was missing two of its key players in Deborah Gonzalez and Erica Sanchez. But in addition to Gretter’s game-high 21 points, Paula Regariardo logged 13 points, including two consecutive three-pointers and a free throw that gave Argentina the lead late in the game and doused the hopes of the Americans. Agostina Burani also did an outstanding defensive job on Stewart, a future American superstar, and the Argentine team simply refused to quit.

Neither team shot the ball particularly well in this game, with Argentina netting just 18 of its 66 attempts from the field (27.3 percent), while Team USA knocked down just 16-of-52 from the floor (30.8 percent). Though the South Americans resorted to volume shooting from the perimeter, the three-ball was clearly decisive in this game, with Argentina landing eight of 29 shots from beyond the arc (27.6 percent), while the U.S. made just one of its nine attempts from long range.

Still, that 24-3 point advantage from three-point range was enough to enable Argentina to overcome sizable disadvantages at both the charity stripe, where the South Americans tallied 14 points on 22 attempts to the Americans’ 22 points on 31 trips to the line, and on the glass, where the U.S. out-rebounded Argentina 46-23.

In Friday’s other game in the hotly contested Group A, host Mexico (1-0) defeated Puerto Rico (0-1), 76-74. Both Group B games were blowouts, as Brazil (1-0 ) topped Canada (0-1), 78-53, and Colombia (1-0) beat Jamaica (0-1) 83-26. 

With the three-point loss, Team USA drops to the bottom of Group A in the competition. Up next for the Americans is Puerto Rico at 5:30 p.m. CDT on Saturday, Oct. 22. The U.S. rounds out preliminary round play against Mexico at 8 p.m. Central on Sunday, Oct. 23.

The top two finishing teams from each preliminary round group advance to the medal semifinals, while the third and fourth place teams drop into a consolation bracket for 5th-8th place. The semifinals will be played on Oct. 24, with the gold and bronze medal games scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 25.

“We just need to learn from what we did wrong, and then move on and forget about this game,” Redmon said. “We can’t hang our heads. We need to be thinking about Puerto Rico.”





Originally published Fri, October 21, 2011

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Week: February 7, 2012
1 Baylor (31) 24-0 1 1 1 775
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