Women’s national team loses back-to-back exhibition games for first time in 11 years
For the first time since 2011, the Team USA women’s national team has lost back-to-back exhibition games.
After falling to Australia, 70-67, Friday, July 16 from the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas Team USA is off to its first 0-2 start in exhibition play in nearly a decade.
“[Australia] made it hard for us to make entry-passes and they made us go to a different option in our offense,” head coach Dawn Staley said. “I don’t think we handled that well in the third quarter. I thought other than that we handled it pretty well.”
Moreover, the Australian national team beat Team USA without the presence of four-time all-star Liz Cambage, who recently withdrew from the Tokyo Olympics citing mental health.
Team USA lost both opening games by a combined 11 points after losing by eight in the WNBA All-Star Game Wednesday, July 14.
“I learned that we’re getting better,” Staley said. “Obviously, not in the win column but some of the things we did out there were remarkably better than what it was on Wednesday. We just have to clean up some things.”
The team will get one more opportunity to get it right ahead of leaving for Tokyo.
Nigeria will be the last exhibition game on the schedule for this year’s national team and that’s scheduled for Sunday, July 18 from the Michelob Ultra Arena.
Tip-off is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
“We’ll get back to the drawing board,” Staley said. “We don’t like losing, we don’t like feeling the way we feel. But if there’s progress taking place with this team it puts us in a better place.”
Forward Breanna Stewart scored 14 of her 17 points in the first half as part of a dominant first 20 minutes for Team USA.
“They have a lot of talent, they play really well together,” she said. “It was no surprise that they came out in the second half and were continuing to be aggressive. They were continuing to look for their shots and really just played basketball.”
Despite the game being tied at 19 after the first quarter, Team USA built a lead as large as 13 points before halftime.
Moreover, the team ended the half on a 9-0 run to go into the half up 41-28 on Australia.
“At times we got pretty good ball movement and then at times, we’ll get a little stagnant,” Staley said. “I think that’s just from everybody playing their style for what they do for their respective teams.”
However, a 12-4 run by the Opals to end the third quarter put Australia right back in the game, down five to start the fourth quarter.
“That’s a spurt we have to be ready to guard against in any game that we play,” Staley said. “It can come at the end of the game, it can come in the third quarter, it could come in the first quarter.”
Two minutes into the final frame, the Opals had taken the lead and they would hold onto it for good.
Australia was led by center Ezi Magbegor who scored a team-high 17 points.
Stewart had a chance to tie the game as time expired but missed a stepback three-point attempt.
Prior to, Stewart accounted for the only two made three-pointers by Team USA, finishing with a 2-for-18 team mark.