April 7, 2006
Columbus, Ohio – A pair of Ohio State All-Americans, Jessica Davenport (2003- )and Katie Smith (1993-96), helped USA Basketball’s National Senior Team to an 85-77 victory over China Friday in the first round of the 2006 Opals World Challenge in Cairns, Australia. Smith netted seven points, while Davenport made her senior team debut.
Trailing 41-37 at halftime, Team USA outscored China by 12 in the second half to boost its spring exhibition record to 7-0. With the victory, the Americans advanced to face Australia at 6 a.m. EDT Saturday. The Australian squad recorded a 97-54 win over Chinese Taipei Friday.
Smith, the leading scorer on the U.S. team in its last tour of games in Europe, was 3-of-7 from the floor and grabbed three rebounds in 32 minutes. With Team USA ahead 81-77 and 20 seconds remaining in the game, Smith took a charge, giving the U.S. possession and an opportunity to seal the game at the free throw line. Alana Beard and Swin Cash, Smith’s teammate with the WNBA’s Detroit Shock, went 4-for-4 from the line to put away China.
Davenport, who finished her junior campaign at Ohio State last season, saw limited action. The two-time Big Ten player of the year got in the score book with a 1-for-2 mark from the foul line. Candace Parker, who completed her freshman season at Tennessee in 2005-06, led the U.S. with 26 points. Tina Thompson topped Team USA with 12 rebounds, while Beard posted 21 points, 10 rebounds and a team-best four assists.
Last August, Davenport helped lead Team USA to a perfect 7-0 mark and a gold medal in the 2006 World University Games in Izmir, Turkey. A starter in five of the seven contests, Davenport averaged 10.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. She also led the team in free throws, making 17-of-21 attempts.
In March, Smith captained Team USA to an undefeated 6-0 record on the second leg of Spring Training in Europe. Smith averaged more than 15 points per game and made 64 percent of her 3-point tries as the United States won each of the six games by an average of nearly 20 points.
Katie Smith, guard
Q: Again, the team had difficulty coming together and getting into the flow in the first game, as was the case in the USA’s first two segments.
A: “Yeah, it’s another new group. And even with this group, the four days of practice in Boston was always different. People were coming in, people were leaving, people weren’t there. So this one was probably the most difficult to prepare for. Plus in Boston there were a lot of distractions and there were a lot of other things that people had to do. But still, being on the floor, competing and finding a way to win, especially when these teams have been together a lot longer, is huge. A lot of people contributed and it was nice to get that one under our belt. We just have to do a better job defensively and then offensively, taking our time to get good looks. Tomorrow is going to be a challenge because they’ll want to beat us. Everyone always wants to beat us, but being in Australia it’ll be a little more.”
Q: China was a lot tougher tonight than we’ve seen them in the past few years. They’re working on building their team, not only for the `06 Worlds, but for the 2008 Olympics. What did you think of them tonight?
A: “They’re going to be good. Obviously coaching-wise with Tom Maher, what he did for Australia when he was here was great. And then their toughness, the way they play, they’re going to be physical. They’re going to come out and they’re going to battle. They’ve always had skill. They’ve got good size. They get to the free throw line, which was huge for them tonight. They’re going to put it together, they’re going to be solid, especially with that coaching and their skills, in Beijing. They’re in our (2006 FIBA World Championship) pool and we’re going to see them again while we’re here. I think that’ll be nice to see, how we make adjustments and how we fine tune things when we see them again. By all means they’re going to be one of those teams you have to be ready for. For all they have and all their skills, getting a win out of them tonight was big. “