Great Britain’s Women’s squad were overwhelmed by Team USA as the Americans cruised to an 88-63 victory in a dominant display of basketball at the Manchester Arena.
Jo Leedham led all scorers with 21 points but scoring streaks either side of the break allowed USA to run away with the win in a brilliant team effort. All of the visiting players made the score sheet with at least six points due to coach Geno Auriemma adopting a rotation system that seemed to rattle the home side.
Great Britain head coach Tom Maher had nothing but admiration for their opponents and believes the game was good preparation for the Olympics which starts next weekend.
“ The Americans are phenomenal athletes. They have amazing bodies with long arms and are extremely quick,” he said.
“This game was fantastic preparation for us heading into the Olympics. I am delighted with the way we played. USA were very strong and athletic but I couldn’t be more grateful to both teams out there tonight.”
The hosts troubled the world number one side in the early stages of the first ten minutes. They soared to a 21-10 head start thanks to back to back scores from Leedham driving to the basket. However, many turnovers would cost Great Britain dearly. USA sparked into life with Maya Moore being the core of a 15 point unanswered streak for the visitors. Tina Charles ended the first period dropping in a hook shot for the Americans to lead by four at 25-21.
The scoring surge from the United States was stretched beyond 20 as Moore again punished the British defence with her clinical perimeter shooting. Leedham put an end to the American’s scoring burst with a high arcing shot moments later but USA soon posted another double digit run before the break. Chicago Sky’s Sylvia Fowles collected four points leaping strongly for rebounds and popping the ball back through the net. Moore was on the end of a USA fast break to give the Americans a 47-28 advantage. Two fast scores from Stef Collins, who bagged 14 points on the night, completed the half as the teams headed to the locker rooms with USA in front by 15 points, 47-32. Moore led the scoring after 20 minutes with 14 points shooting five out of eight shots from the floor.
Great Britain fought back courageously at the beginning of the third quarter. Azania Stewart added four quick fire points as she drove to the baseline finishing a tough lay-up bringing GB within seven points at 51-44. WNBA Champion Lindsay Whalen sprung to life late in the third. She showed her composure to complete a reverse lay-up clean off the glass after sprinting from the half-way line. Whalen posted the final score of the quarter to extend the Americans’ lead beyond 20, making it 71-53 to the visitors.
Moore pulled up and drained a shot to start the final quarter in which the Americans comfortably closed out the victory. Leedham was the only scorer from Great Britain during this period, hitting just two shots from beyond the three point arc in the process. The score line reached its peak when Seimone Augustus flipped in a shot from underneath the basket.
Leedham said that this was a learning experience for the team and it opened their eyes as to what they needed to work on.
She said: “ it was a really good team to play. They are a team that can expose your weaknesses so we can definitely learn from them. The USA are the best in the world and they are that for a reason.”