U.S. women show Australia some hoops

Posted: September 17, 2007

TRENTON - The U.S. women's senior national basketball team, the defending Olympic champion, played an exhibition game yesterday at Sovereign Bank Arena against the second-ranked Australian squad.

At least for one day, the gap between the teams was sizable.

With forward Tina Thompson of the WNBA's Houston Comets leading the way with 21 points, the U.S. squad rolled to a 96-64 victory in front of 1,713 spectators.

The U.S. team also received 18 points from guard Candice Wiggins of Stanford and 12 points from center Courtney Paris of Oklahoma.

The 6-foot-2 Thompson and the 6-3 Paris are two players in a front-line rotation that figures to be the strength of the U.S. squad as it moves forward in international play. Also included in the group yesterday were 6-1 DeLisha Milton-Jones of the Washington Mystics, 6-1 Seimone Augustus of the Minnesota Lynx, 6-2 Rebekkah Brunson of the Sacramento Monarchs, and 6-4 Jessica Davenport of the New York Liberty.

"We have some big girls in there that are tough to guard individually," Thompson said. "We're definitely going to take advantages of mismatches, if we have them."

Team USA, which is preparing for the FIBA Americas Championship that will take place later this month in Chile, will meet Australia again Wednesday in Uncasville, Conn.

The winner of the FIBA event will claim a spot in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Not present yesterday for the United States were Cheryl Ford (injured), Swin Cash, Deanna Nolan and Katie Smith of the Detroit Shock, along with Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter of the Phoenix Mercury. Those players were involved in the WNBA Finals, which concluded yesterday.

"Not just because they're great talents, and not just because they have so much experience, but they're great chemistry, leadership people for us," U.S. coach Anne Donovan said. "Just in terms of setting a standard, they really contribute to the tone we want to set."

Guard Sue Bird was asked whether yesterday's performance would be typical for the United States.

"I hope so," she said. "I'll take a 30-point win any day. We're a young team, but we also have a good mix of veterans. And heading down to Chile, we've really put a lot of work in."

Contact staff writer Kevin Tatum at 215-854-2583 or ktatum@phillynews.com.

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