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Star-Bulletin Sports

Saturday, September 2, 2000


Olympic Rings

USA women
rout Brazil

The Olympic basketball
team exacts revenge for
a previous loss

By Pat Bigold

Cheryl Swoopes scored 18 (11 in the second half), Lisa Leslie had 15 and Yolanda Griffith added 13 as the USA women's Olympic basketball team exacted revenge against Brazil,75-53, this morning at the Stan Sheriff Center.

The last time the teams met (March 18), Brazil, considered a gold contender in Sydney, took a 64-55 decision in its home country.

The USA led 37-31, at halftime on 11 points by Lisa Leslie, the only player in the half with double figures.

But the USA went on a 6-0 run to open the second half and never looked back.

"We're pleased with holding them to 31 points in the first half," said USA head coach Nell Fortner, who ranks Brazil in the top four of the Olympic field. "It was a good defensive effort. I knew we had the ability to wear them down so we upped the tempo defensively in the second half."

Fortner said there was "no comparison" between the previous game with Brazil and this one.

"The team is in a different place now mentally and physically also," said Fortner. "When you're only 14 days away from the Olympics, you're mentally in a different place."

Except for an opening basket by the USA, Brazil led for the first 9:28 of the game.

"We were a little sluggish," said Fortner, whose team was coming off three consecutive victories over Canada late last month. "When we pick up the tempo defensively, it helps our transition game."

There were four ties in the first half.

Chamique Holdsclaw tied the game at 17-17 on a steal and feed to Teresa Edwards.

The USA built its lead to 23-17 on consecutive baskets by Griffith and a Leslie turnaround.

Brazil wenton a 7-0 run to regain the lead, 24-23. Swoopes tied it on a free throw and the USA went upo again, 28-24, on baskets by Nikki McCray and swoopes.

But Janeth Arcain put Brazil ahead again, 30-29, on a reverse layup.

Swoopes score six of the final seven points of the half to send the USA into the locker room with some breathing room.

The teams were even off the glass in the first and second halves (15-15 and 13-13).

Brazil was led by Arcain's 14 points, 6-5 center Alessandra de Oliveira's 11 and Helen Luz's 10 (2-for-4 from 3-point land).

De Oliveira led the game with eight rebounds.

The USA did not convert a single 3-pointer in six tries while Brazil made four in 10 attempts.

"When we played Brazil before, Alessandra pretty much had her way on the inside post and our coaching staff told us we had to buckle down defensively and not let her get the ball under the basket and play aggressive defense," said Griffith. "Our defense is our key. We upped the tempo in the second half and it was a big difference. There were a lot of deflections, a lot of steals, a lot of traps., We just played the kind of basketball USA is capable of playing."

The USA forced 27 turnovers by Brazil while Fortner's team committed only 18.

Griffith and Edwards led the USA with three steals apiece.

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