As hot as they were in the early going Friday, the U.S. Senior Women’s National Team was equally as cold Saturday and fell to CSKA Moscow 75-65 in the championship game of the FIBA World League Tournament.
The U.S. Women shot just 34.8% from the field and were 3-of-15 from three-point range in the loss. Center Janel McCarville (18 points, nine rebounds) was the only U.S. player to score in double figures.
“This was a disappointing loss,” said U.S. Head Coach Anne Donovan. “We knew we had to hold them to a lower scoring output and we did that, we kept them in the mid-70s, but we just couldn’t put the ball in the hole very well tonight. I don’t know if it was fatigue or the fifth game in six days, but we just didn’t play our best – that’s for sure. Offensively, we didn’t make shots, we had some turnovers at the wrong times when we were trying to make a run. It just wasn’t our night.”
The U.S. Women did a pretty good job defensively, limiting CSKA Moscow to 36.7% shooting int he second half and forcing 18 turnovers in the game. However, Moscow took advantage of its formidable frontline of Ann Wauters and Maria Stepanova, who combined for 27 points and 16 boards. Russian vet Ilona Korstin scored 16 points.
The U.S. simply wasn’t able to keep up on offense. In particular, Diana Taurasi had a tough night, shooting 2-for-12 from the field and missing all five of her three-point attempts. Taj McWilliams-Franklin was outstanding on the boards and had a double-double, but she shot 2-of-10 from the field.
Storm guard Sue Bird had nine points and four assists and earned the award given to the best guard in the tournament.
This was a weird tournament because a national team was squaring off with club teams. Though the U.S. had something of a talent advantage, the other squads have the benefit of having practiced together for some time. There’s a core group of players that remains from the FIBA Americas Championship for the U.S., but the group added several new players.
“I thought that even though there we do have some people who played in Chile, it’s pretty much a new team,” said Bird. “You can go down the list: Janel McCarville has never played for USA Basketball before at this level and I thought she came in and did a great job; same with Katie Feenstra, someone who’s never played (for) USA Basketball. The plays are new, the defenses are new, playing with everybody here was new.
“We definitely had some growing pains, especially in the Lithuania game, but the two wins we had against CSKA and UMMC, I don’t think people realize how difficult those games were and how good those teams are. Those are teams that my Russia team has always played against and they’re all-star teams. So for us to come in, especially on UMMC’s home court, and to win, is great. I see a lot of positives in what we did this week, even though we didn’t take home the gold.”
The National Team returns home and will have little rest, kicking off their college tour on Halloween night at Maryland.