Thursday, April 24, 2008

U.S. Women to Gold-Medal Game

It's not the gold medal the U.S. Senior Women's National Team has as a goal in 2008, but they will play for gold in the Good Luck Beijing Tournament.

On Thursday, the U.S. defeated host China 86-61. China had been the last undefeated team at 4-0. Both the U.S. and China finished at 4-1 and they will play each other again on Saturday for the gold medal. China was within four at 43-39 early in the second half, but the U.S. women followed with an 11-2 run and were never threatened thereafter.

The U.S. used its advantage in the paint, starting Sylvia Fowles and Lisa Leslie together up front and getting 46 points and 23 rebounds from the two players. Storm forward Swin Cash contributed five points and five boards, making two of her three shot attempts.

"We were just really excited to come into this game today and have the opportunity to play a China team that we know has improved so much over the years," Cash said. "I felt that coming out in the first quarter our team really set the tempo. We were trying to be aggressive and establish our post players."

One downside to the win: Lynx guard Lindsey Harding left early with a strained left knee at the end of the third quarter. Harding is coming back from a torn left ACL, so any trouble with the knee is a bit worrisome.

Here's what I don't get about this tournament. After beating the U.S. in their opener, the Australian Opals lost to China and then were upset by Oceanic rivals New Zealand Thursday to finish round-robin play at 3-2. That's some inconsistency.


Tanisha Wright's Raanana Hertzeliya team fell 86-65 to Elizur Ramla Thursday, tying the Israeli D1 Finals at one game apiece. Both teams have held home court so far in a 1-1-1-1-1 Finals format. Ramla was hot on offense, putting five players in double-figures and shooting 54.2% from the field.

Ramla focused its defensive attention on Wright, who attempted just seven shots. She still had 14 points, five rebounds and four assists but her teammates were unable to take full advantage of the attention paid to Wright.

Game 3 in the series will be played Monday with Raanana playing host. The series will go at least through Game 4 next Thursday.

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