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Saturday, July 20, 2019

U.S. Breaks Century Mark with 108-52 Rout of Senegal on Day Two of World Championship Play

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Photo Caption: And a little child shall lead them… Team USA’s youngest member, Maya Moore, a senior at the University of Connecticut and two-time NCAA Division I National Player of the Year, came off the bench to lead six U.S. scorers in double figures. Moore posted 15 points, grabbed five rebounds, and iced the cake with five assists (but three turnovers) and two steals.

Photo Credit: Tara Polen

By Lee Michaelson

Team USA continued their quest to recapture the Women’s World Basketball Championship with a 108-52 win over Senegal. What can you say about a mismatch this lopsided?

The U.S. suffered a short spate of cold shooting for the first few minutes, as shots struck iron and rattled off the rim. Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) took a feed off a Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky) steal, and took it to the hoop to notch the first basket by either side roughly a minute in.

Senegal’s Fatou Dieng promptly answered in kind with a lay-up at the other end, and after Sylvia Fowles missed a pair from the charity stripe, Aya Traore netted a jumper to give the Africans their first and only lead of the game at 4-0. Meanwhile, Team USA continued to heave up one miss after the other, going one-for-seven from the field over the first three minutes.

It would be a short-lived triumph for the Africans, however.

Taurasi finally got the party started a little less than three minutes in, drawing a foul on a lay-up and converting the traditional three-point play, to launch a 17-0 American run and give Team USA the lead for good. That felt so good that she repeated the process on the next possession. Seconds after entering the game, Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun) blocked a shot by Senegal’s Aminata Diop, recovered the defensive board, and fired it down court to Taurasi in a sort of low Alley-Oop. Taurasi caught the ball mid-air and continued her upward journey, laying the ball in, and once again drawing the foul to make it a three-point play.

The Americans were off and running. Literally running, as the U.S. offense was at its best on the fast-break, and had plenty of opportunities to run the ball as time-after-time, the Senegalese players turned the ball over or saw their shots blocked. By the final buzzer, the U.S. had racked up 21 fast-break points to zero for Senegal, and 28 points off turnovers to just eight for the African team.

Photo Caption: Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream) gets free on the fast-break. The U.S. team had 21 fast-break points; Senegal had none. McCoughtry came off the bench for nine points, four boards and four steals in 14 minutes of playing time.
Photo Credit: Tara Polen

For the next five minutes, the U.S. held Senegal scoreless, while running the score up to 19-4. Finally, with three-and-a-half minutes left in the opening quarter, Senegal’s captain, Awa Gueye, found herself wide open on the left wing, and took advantage of the defensive lapse to drop in a three-pointer that hit nothing but net.

The trey would do little to change the outcome, but seemed to inspire Gueye’s teammates to resume playing basketball. Though the Americans continued to light up the scoreboard, Gueye found the hoop again on a running lay-up and Traore made a pair from the charity stripe, to give Senegal 11 points, to Team USA’s 30, by the end of the first period.

The second quarter was more of the same, and by the end of two, every American player had scored, and the U.S. lead stood at 58-25. The only real question was how Senegal had managed even 25 points in the face of a withering U.S. defense that forced turnover-after-turnover by the other side.

Team USA was led in the first half by Maya Moore with nine points on three-of-four from the field, Taurasi with eight on three-of-five, and Catchings with seven on three-of-four. (One of the “downsides” for American players in these international events is that because of the coaches’ efforts to evenly distribute the playing time, few find their names at the top of the leaderboard in scoring or any other category.) 

Meanwhile, Salimata Diatta had come alive in the second period to lead the way for her team with seven points, all of them in the second quarter, three of them from the line.

As a general matter, the officiating team made up of Alexsander Gorshkov (Russia), Gillian Martindale (Barbados) and Moussa Toure (Iran) seemed unusually quick with their whistles. Typically, one of the differences between FIBA-sponsored events such as the Olympics and World Championships and what fans are used to in the WNBA is that the FIBA refs (many of them quite good) take seriously the provision of the rules that encourages them to overlook incidental contact that does not impede the opposing player’s progress toward the goal. As a result, many of these games are quite physical, especially away from the basket. (On the other hand, it is nearly impossible to get a FIBA ref to whistle an offensive foul as virtually all contact in the paint is called against the defender.) Not so this night, which by game’s end saw the Americans make 24 trips to the line (converting on 18 of them) and Senegal toe the charity stripe 12 times, where they earned nine of their points.

In years past the Americans, especially the post players, have had some difficulty adjusting to the difference – not so much in the rules themselves, but in how they are interpreted on the floor – and with disqualification coming with just five fouls, not six, the learning curve could prove painful.  But Taurasi, who picked up three fouls in the opening half, was the only U.S. player to experience any kind of foul trouble in this outing.

Throughout the second half, Senegal showed their heart, competing fiercely despite the ever-growing abyss between the scores. There were moments where you could truly see the potential in this young team, who swept the African championships, 8-0, to earn their place in the field of 16 at the Worlds. Twice in the final quarter, Senegal connected on back-to-back three-pointers.  In the first of these series, Fatou Dieng took a feed from Salimata Diata and drained the three; seconds later, Jayne Appel (San Antonio Silver Stars) turned the ball over on a ballhandling error, and this time it was Dieng dishing the assist to Aya Traore, who struck from beyond the arc. Later, in one 13-second span in the fourth quarter, Aya Traore, who spent her college years at Purdue and currently plays professionally in Spain, nailed a three-pointer from the right wing, and after Diatta picked off an errant pass by Sue Bird, Astou Traore (no relation, according to Aya) fired an assist to Amiata Diop on the left, who netted a trey of her own.

In another sequence, Diatta intercepted another bad Bird pass and fired downcourt to Astou Traore, who threaded the needle to deliver the ball right on target to Aminata Diop for two points.

Photo Caption: In a rare defensive lapse, Tina Charles is a step slow in getting in front of Senegal’s Astou Traore (no relation to Aya Traore), opening the door to a lay-up. Astou Traore finished with seven points, three rebounds, an assist and a steal as Senegal struggled to maintain possession of the ball for log enough to score it.
Photo Credit: Tara Polen

Had Senegal been able to sustain that level of play for any period of time, they might at least have made a game of it.  But these glimpses of brilliance were squeezed in between extended periods of poor ballhandling and worse shooting. In one particularly disappointing sequence late in the third period, Aya Traore picked off a bad pass by Lindsay Whalen (Connecticut Sun) and took it all the way to the hoop on the fast break – then blew the lay-up. Nene Diame beat out a passel of U.S. rebounders to grab the offensive board, then put up a jumper that was also badly off the mark.

All in all, the game held the feel of a high school team thrown up against a professional All-Star team, which except for the question of age, is pretty much what the game amounted to.  Senegal head coach Moustapha Gaye acknowledged as much, stating, “We knew that U.S.A. is much better team. We tried to play our best and obviously it wasn’t enough.”

Photo Caption: Senegal’s Marie Sy gets past Charles for one of her two baskets of the night. Though Sy showed energy and athleticism on both sides of the ball, she and her teammates were stymied by the U.S. defense for much of the night.
Photo Credit: Tara Polen

As U.S. Coach Geno Auriemma bluntly, if indelicately, put it afterward, Senegal just didn’t have the talent, height or quickness to keep pace with the Americans, who were continually able to throw fresh legs at their beleaguered opponents.

“I think Coach [Gaye] is right, we just have more good players than they do. When we sub our second team, it just puts a lot of pressure on the other team, and that’s what we wanted to do tonight.”

“The players Coach has with Senegal, it’s difficult for them to match us because they’re just not big enough or quick enough,” Auriemma added. “So, sometimes the offense looks a little better than it really is. Tonight it looked really good at times, but we’re still not there yet. We don’t know each other well. Hopefully, every game we get a little better. We still haven’t gotten a big game out of Diana (Taurasi). So, I’m waiting for that. There are a lot of weapons on our team, and every night we just try to use as many as we can.”

Photo Caption: The U.S. enjoyed a sizable advantage over Senegal in height, experience and athleticism that helped them dominate the glass and control the paint. Here, Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury) soars over her defender, Senegal captain Awa Gueye, for two of her 14 points. Dupree also grabbed five rebounds.
Photo Credit: Tara Polen

When the final buzzer sounded, it was USA 108, Senegal 52. Six of the 12 U.S. players tallied double digits: Maya Moore came off the bench to lead the way with 15 points (plus five assists and two steals); Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury) notched 14 points and five boards; Tina Charles and Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) added 11 points apiece, with Catchings also hauling down five rebounds, dishing out three assists and swiping two steals; and Lindsay Whalen and Sylvia Fowles dropped in 10 apiece.

Photo Caption: Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun) was one of six Americans to post double figures in a game in which every U.S. player scored. Charles, one of six U.S. Senior Women’s National Team newcomers, finished with 11 points, three rebounds, an assist and a block.
Photo Credit: Tara Polen

Only one Senegalese player, Fatou Dieng who finished with 10 points, two assists and two steals (but five turnovers), posted double figures; Aya Traore was right behind her with nine points, including two treys, but on just three-of-17 (18 percent) shooting.

In addition, the U.S. worked the boards as a team; though no single player recorded double-digit rebounds, four players tallied five apiece. Collectively, the Americans dominated the glass by a 44-25 margin, with offensive rebounding (13-nine in favor of the U.S.) leading to a 16-to-two advantage in second-chance points.

Photo Caption: Aggressive rebounding and forced turnovers fueled the American fast-break. Here, Lindsay Whalen, a newcomer to the Senior National Team, is way ahead of her defender, Senegal’s Salimat Diatta, as she takes it to the hole.
Photo Credit: Tara Polen

And though coming into the Games, Auriemma expressed concern about his team’s lack of height, the Americans held a decided height advantage over Senegal, contributing to a 66-22 edge for Team USA in points in the paint.

After the game, Aya Traore was philosophical about the loss. “It doesn’t matter if you lose by 100 points or by two points,” she stated. “You have to keep your focus on how you play the game.”

In a one-on-one interview with Full Court, Traore, who came to the United States for her high school and college years, later talked about what it would take to bring Senegal and other African teams to a competitive level in international play.

“Player development,” she quickly responded, pointing out that not only is access to playing courts and equipment a problem for girls in many African nations, but so too is the lack of access to experienced professional trainers and coaches and the general absence of youth leagues (such as the U.S. AAU) and other development programs to encourage and train young players.

Photo Caption: Former Purdue Boilermaker Aya Traore said that she, like the rest of her Senegal teammates, dream of playing in the WNBA someday, but “some things are not meant to be.” In the meantime, Traore plays in Europe and strives to better her game every day. Still, the future for African teams in international lies not with Traore’s generation but in youth development, as well as better access to courts, equipment, coaches and trainers for young players.
Photo Credit: Tara Polen

Next up for the Americans, now 2-0, is a date with the European Champions, France, who are also unbeaten in this tournament. The game (televised in the U.S. on NBA TV) will tip off at 9:15 a.m. EDT Saturday, 3:15 p.m. local. 

Senegal, 0-2, will face Greece, also 0-2, in the final game of the day (2:15 p.m. EDT, 8:15 p.m. local) in a game that will decide which of them will advance to the next round and which will head home early.

Side Notes

  • In years past, the lack of any continuous block of practice time for the Americans has revealed itself in a plague of turnovers in the early rounds, with miscues often numbering in the low to mid-20s. Things were a bit bumpy yesterday, as Team USA counted 19 turnovers, but the team seems to be getting a grip on things pretty quickly, coughing the ball up just 14 times in today’s game.  U.S. and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma tacitly credited the UConn connection: “You have two players in the backcourt, Sue (Bird) and Diana (Taurasi) who play together in Europe and played together in college,” Auriemma stated. “There’s a familiarity that’s there, that doesn’t exist a lot of times on teams like this. I’ve got a couple other players that played together in college. They know each other, and they know a little bit about where it’s going to go next. It hasn’t been as difficult for me as it might be for another coach who’s dealing with 12 different players that they don’t know. I’m fortunate that I have six different players on this team who I know, who know me, know what I expect, where the ball’s supposed to go, where it’s not. So, it’s made it easy to control the turnovers.”

  • Of the starting five – Bird, Taurasi, Catchings, Cash and Fowles – four were late to arrive at training camp, with Bird and Cash (along with Angel McCoughtry who came off the bench for nine points, four boards and four steals), the last to arrive, joining the team in the Czech Republic the day before the tournament got underway. The fifth starter, Fowles, was there for the entire camp, but unable to practice with the team due to the residual effects of arthroscopic knee surgery.

    Photo Caption: Though Swin Cash joined Team USA in the Czech Republic just two days ago (having been busy wrapping up the WNBA National Championship with her Seattle Storm teammates), she and Sue Bird got the starting nod in Friday’s game against Senegal. Cash certainly didn’t suffer any from the lack of practice with the American squad, tallying 11 points, five boards, a steal and a block in just under 16 minutes on the court.
    Photo Credit: Tara Polen

    Said Auriemma: [I]t’s been a little bit more difficult to get everybody involved, but they’re great players. The reason why they were late is because they were winning a championship. I think if you can put players out on the floor who won championships, I think you’re going to be okay. Who the starting lineup is? I don’t know how that comes about, but on this team it really doesn’t matter. The leading scorers tonight were players who came off the bench, rather than the starters. So, it doesn’t really matter.”

  • Fowles, by the way, was looking good in action after the post-surgical hiatus, running the floor well and showing her usual toughness in the low post, though she was a bit less aggressive than usual on the glass. In just 12-and-a-half minutes on the floor, Fowles put up 10 points, pulled down three boards, grabbed a steal and swatted down a blocked shot.

    Photo Caption: For the last few weeks, Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky) has worn a question mark on her forehead with respect to her participation in the World Championships after underdoing arthroscopic surgery on her knee. She was showing no pain in In Friday’s preliminary round game against Senegal, however, getting the start and posting 10 points, three boards, a steal and a block in less than 13 minutes of play.
    Photo Credit: Tara Polen

  • The selection process was really tough for Auriemma. “Geno just wasn’t Geno in [the period before the final cuts took place],” according to a USA Basketball spokesperson. When a college coach gathers his team around him, it usually isn’t with an eye to sending more than half of them packing. “He really grew attached to these ‘kids,’” the spokesperson added, noting that even though short in time, the intensity of the two-week training camps, with players and coaches living, traveling and working together on a daily basis, created a family-like atmosphere.  “It’s hard to say to a family member, “Goodbye. We don’t really want you hanging out with us anymore.”

  • Though Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury) had to play catch-up after arriving late in training camp after the Western Conference Finals, she’s having fun now that the tournament is underway. “It was pretty tough for me at first,” Dupree said of her late arrival to the team. “To come here—I wasn’t there at the beginning of training camp—so, I had to learn things pretty quickly. I struggled the first couple of exhibition games that we had.”  Now that she’s here, she’s having a great time playing with the talent-loaded squad. “It is [fun],” she stated. “Everybody has an opportunity to score the ball. You have a lot of movement out there. As long as we’re able to get stops, we’re able to do what we need to do on the other end of the floor.”

  • Tina Charles may just have patented the “butt-check” in this tournament. We all know of the hip-check, but in this permutation, Charles clears out her defender by bending over at the waist, thrusting her head forward as though taking a shot, while sending her hindquarters abruptly and forcefully backward. The resulting butt-to-belly contact sent at least one defender flying, but no call.

Other Friday Games

Ostrava – Group A

  • Canada (1-1) 65—China (0-2) 61

    High Scorer: Kimberly Smith (Canada) – 25

    High Rebounder: Lizanne Murphy (Canada) – 8


  • Australia (2-0) 83—Belarus (1-1) 59

    High Scorer: Belinda Snell (Australia) – 17

    High Rebounder: Lauren Jackson (Australia) – 11

Ostrava – Group B

  • USA (2-0) 108—Senegal (0-2) 52

    High Scorer: Maya Moore (USA) – 15

    High Rebounder: Tamika Catchings, Lindsay Whalen, Candice Dupree (USA) – 5 each


  • France (2-0) 69—Greece (0-2) 55

    High Scorer: Endene Mayem (France) – 19

    High Rebounder: Emmeline Ndongue (France) – 10

Brno – Group C

  • Spain (2-0) 84 – Korea (1-1) 69

    High Scorer: Sancho Lyttle (Spain) – 28

    High Rebounders: Sancho Lyttle (Spain) – 15


  • Brazil (1-1) 80 – Mali (0-2) 73

    High Scorer: Helen Luz (Brazil) – 20

    High Rebounder: Madnouma Coulibaly (Mali)— 15

Brno – Group D

  • Japan (1-1)  59— Argentina (0-2) 58

    High Scorer: Yuko Oga (Japan) – 21

    High Rebounder:  Asami Yoshida (Japan) – 14


  • Russia (2-0) 55 – Czech Republic (1-1) 52

    High Scorer: Hana Horokova (Czech Republic) – 21

    High Rebounder: Maria Stepanova –13



Originally published Fri, September 24, 2010

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Week: February 7, 2012
1 Baylor (31) 24-0 1 1 1 775
2 Notre Dame 23-1 2 2 2 743
3 Connecticut 21-2 3 4 3 710
4 Stanford 20-1 4 5 4 685
5 Duke 19-3 6 8 5 650
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14 Texas A&M 16-5 16 6 15 378
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17 Louisville 17-6 12 9 20 276
18 Gonzaga 21-3 19 NR-RV
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19 Purdue 19-5 17 21 16 222
20 Georgia 18-6 20 12 21 202
21 Penn State 18-5 21 14 18 176
22 DePaul 17-7 23 18 NR-RV
23 Georgia Tech 16-6 22 NR-RV
22 104
24 South Carolina 18-5 NR-RV
NR 24 46
25 Vanderbilt 18-5 NR-RV
NR 45
Dropped Out: No. 24 North Carolina, No. 25 Kansas.
First-place votes: Total first-place votes received (if any) are indicated in parentheses following school name.
Others receiving votes: St. Bonaventure (22-2) 34; North Carolina (17-6) 19; California (17-6) 18; Florida Gulf Coast (21-2) 16; Middle Tennessee (19-5) 15; Texas-El Paso (20-2) 8; Texas Tech (16-6) 5; Brigham Young (21-4) 4; Fresno State (19-4) 4; St. John's (15-8) 4; Princeton (15-4) 3; Oklahoma (15-7) 2; West Virginia (17-6) 2; Kansas State (15-7) 1.
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Credit: Courtesy Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The weekly Division I Top 25 Coaches' Poll, sponsored by USA Today and ESPN, is based on voting by a Board of Coaches made up of 31 head coaches at Division I institutions all of whom are WBCA members.