Monday, Apr 23, 2018
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U.S women's basketball team aces tough test

Depth a key in defeat of Turkey


Tamika Catchings (10) of the United States and Turkey's Tugce Canitez, right, fight for the ball as Turkey's Kuanitra Holingsvorth looks on.

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LONDON -- Geno Auriemma attributes the U.S. women's basketball team's success over the past four Olympics to one simple thing: Depth.

While some teams may be able to hang with the American starters, the U.S. is able to bring a fresh wave of all-stars off the bench to wear their opponents down.

"What we lack in preparation time we make up for in the quality of our depth," Auriemma said. "We have to use it to the best of our advantage. That second group led by Lindsay [Whalen] and Angel [McCoughtry] was the difference in the game.

"From the minute [McCoughtry)]stepped on the floor to when the game ended she was the dominant player. That's something that I think we have that very few if any teams in this tournament have so I'm fortunate to have that option."

McCoughtry scored 18 points and Tina Charles added 16 to help the Americans beat Turkey 89-58 on Wednesday night.

Coming off the bench is a new role for McCoughtry, who has started for almost her entire career since high school. It's a role she has thrived in.

"Honestly not starting has been the best thing for my career," she said. "I've gained discipline and I think before I didn't have the discipline. This took my game to another level."

Turkey entered the game undefeated and was expected to give the Americans their toughest test in the Olympics so far. The Turks had looked impressive in their first Olympic appearance and said they weren't intimidated by the top-ranked team in the world despite the U.S. winning its first two games by an average of 38.5 points.

The Turks stayed close for a while. They had an early one-point lead in the first quarter before McCoughtry helped the Americans build a 15-point advantage by the half.

Turkey didn't waiver, coming within 50-45 in the third quarter before McCoughtry and the reserves put the game away.

Her three-point play started a 13-2 run. On the Americans' next possession she missed a 3-pointer, but hustled for the offensive rebound and found Maya Moore for a lay-up.

Whalen took over, scoring six of the final eight points during the burst to make it 63-47 after three quarters. The Turks could get no closer in the fourth quarter.

"Our second unit came in and did a good job of pushing tempo and forcing turnovers," center Candace Parker said. "Angel had a heck of a game. Coach said in the locker room it was the second unit that made the difference."

Former VCU star Quanitra Hollingsworth led Turkey (2-1) with 11 points. She was born in American, but became a naturalized to play for Turkey in May.

"It was a great experience," Hollingsworth said of the game. "We could have done better, but when you give away so many second-chance opportunities you can't really get back into the game. They stepped it up a level."

The Americans played without center Sylvia Fowles for the second straight game because she was resting a sore left foot. She also sat out the team's 52-point win over Angola on Monday night.

The Turks have played well in their first Olympics with wins over Angola and the Czech Republic. They had a tougher time against the U.S., which now has won its last 36 games in the Olympics and is attempting to win a fifth consecutive gold medal.

Next up for the U.S. on Friday is the Czech Republic, which beat Croatia 89-70 for its first win. After playing, practicing or traveling for the last two weeks the Americans will take today off.

The Americans close out pool play Sunday against China, which is also 3-0 after routing Angola 76-52. China has already clinched a spot in the quarterfinal.

France edged Canada 64-60 to advance to the next round. Russia remained unbeaten with a 67-61 win over Britain. The Russians also advanced to the quarterfinals. Australia had a 67-61 victory over Brazil.

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