Aug. 21, 2003
Foreign Tour Central
DAEGU, South Korea - Despite a slow start and a close finish, Team USA got a win under its belt in the preliminary rounds of the World University Games Thursday. The Big 12 Conference all-star squad topped Hungary 62-56 in the first game the team has played under the USA Basketball banner.
"It's important to start out with a win," head coach Bill Fennelly (Iowa State) said. "I thought we were a little nervous, which is to be expected. I think we played hard and you have to give these kids credit for finding a way to win the game."
Team USA fell behind early, scoring for the first time on two Erin Grant (Texas Tech) free throws at the 5:52 mark in the first quarter. The USA offense started warming up in the second quarter, sinking 4-of-5 3-pointers to tie the score at 29-29 with one minute left in the half. After going 0-for-3 in the first quarter from behind the arc, Heather Schreiber (Texas) drained 2-of-3 treys in the second stanza. Toccarra Williams (Texas A&M) sank a running jumper at the buzzer to give Team USA a 31-29 advantage headed into the locker room.
Hungary fought back in the third quarter, tying it up at 39-39 with 2:56 remaining. Steffanie Blackmon (Baylor) hit a turnaround jumper and Schreiber drained a 3-pointer with just over a minute left to help the USA to a 46-41 lead heading into the final quarter.
Team USA owned its biggest lead of the game when Schreiber hit a triple at 7:02, giving the USA a 53-43 lead. Hungary sank three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, pulling within two points with less than four minutes remaining. Annissa Hastings (Texas) scored on a put-back with 1:45 left to give USA a 57-53 lead, while Grant sank 3-of-4 free throws in a one-minute span to put Team USA up 60-56 with under a minute left. Schreiber iced the game with two free throws at 0:15 and the USA defense forced a Hungary turnover to give the Americans a 62-56 win.
"Annissa really gave us energy in the game when we needed it," coach Cindy Stein (Missouri) said. "She provided us with some key plays on both ends of the court that helped keep us in the game."
"Once we got used to the game and got settled down, it helped us find ways to score," Schreiber said. "Coach Fennelly told everyone to keep shooting."
Schreiber finished with 22 points and seven rebounds to lead the USA, while Blackmon added eight points. Hastings led the squad on the boards with eight rebounds and Anne O'Neil (Iowa State) dished a team-best three assists. Team USA sank just 38.1 percent of its shots, but drained 40 percent of its 3-pointers. USA dominated Hungary on the glass with a 37-19 rebounding advantage.
USA faces Italy at 3 p.m. Friday and rounds out pool play with a game against Thailand Saturday at 1 p.m.