USA women secured an 88-63 win over Great Britain on Wednesday night in Manchester, but they didn’t have it all their way for fourty minutes.
The gold medal favourites struggled to execute in the early stages of the first quarter as Great Britain raced to an early 21-10 lead, led by Johannah Leedham, who hit a game-high 21 points.
Unfortunately for Team GB, it didn’t last, as Maya Moore who led USA with 18 points inspired a 21-0 burst which carried over to the second period, giving the U.S a 31-21 lead and they never trailed again.
“I wasn’t surprised by their start, but I was surprised by ours,” USA coach Geno Auriemma said. “When you play a road game and when you’re the United States you expect the home team to be ready. The emotions of the game were very high for them and we were passive in our offence and in our defence but the [Great Britain] team were tough and they took advantage of any mistake we made.”
USA were ruthless in transition, forcing Great Britain into 26 turnovers and scoring 30 points off them. But the Olympic hosts to their credit battled away and four quick-fire points from Azania Stewart narrowed the gap briefly to 51-44 in the third. But the U.S came back, they were firmly in control and took advantage of a drained GB line-up.
“We should have the belief and confidence that we can play with these players,” Cheshire-born Leedham said. “Their athleticism is crazy. They’re the most athletic team I’m ever going to face.”
Stef Collins, who had a hard time distributing the ball at time, due to swarming USA defence, scored 14 points and shot the ball well, shooting 67 percent from field.
“This was an amazing opportunity to play the USA, they are the number one team in the world and they came in with a lot of fire power, more power and more athleticism so it was good that we matched with them most of the time,” she said.
Despite defeat, Great Britain have a lot to be proud of. There Olympic warm-ups have come to an end. They have given Team USA a scare, defeated world number four Czech Republic and number eight France on the way.
“We’ve come so far and I couldn’t be prouder of the team,” GB coach Tom Maher stated. “God willing everyone stays healthy, I think the country will be proud of their team.”