Sluggish US women beat Brits in Olympic warm-up

Thursday, July 19, 2012    

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Maya Moore scored 18 points and Lindsay Whalen added 13 to help the US women's basketball team overcome a sluggish start to beat Britain 88-63 last night in an exhibition game.

The Americans trailed by 11 points in the first seven minutes before taking over.

Sue Bird still wasn't back with the team after the death of her stepfather Dennis this past weekend. She practised with the team on Saturday and Sunday, but missed the exhibition game on Monday against Brazil to be with her family. Coach Geno Auriemma said he thinks Bird will rejoin the team this weekend when they travel to Istanbul for the next leg of their pre-Olympic training tour.

Jo Leedham scored 21 points to lead Britain, while Stef Collins added 14.

Britain got off to a great start in front of their home crowd, outhustling the Americans. The British opened up a 21-10 advantage behind Leedham with three minutes left in the first half. That prompted Auriemma to go with a more defensive line-up. The group of Moore, Whalen, Angel McCoughtry, Swin Cash and Tina Charles quickly responded by scoring the final 15 points of the quarter to make it 26-21.

The Americans scored the first six points of the second quarter to make it 21 straight before Leedham hit a tough runner to end the spurt. That run got the US men's team excited. The men, who play Britain in an exhibition game tonight, were sitting courtside for the game and left with about four minutes left and the women up 25 points.

The US only led 47-32 at the half behind Moore, who had 14 at the break. Britain wouldn't go away cutting their deficit to seven midway through the third quarter. That's when Auriemma put the sparkplugs back in and they promptly led the US to a 19-4 run to close the period. Whalen started the burst with a reverse lay-up, scoring eight of her points during the spurt which ended any hopes of a British upset.

The Americans will play Turkey and Croatia in exhibition games before heading to London on July 25.

The US have won four straight Olympic gold medals.

While the US have dominated Olympics play, Britain are newcomers, playing their first games. The coach is no stranger to the Games. Tom Maher has led four different countries to the Olympics. He guided Australia to the bronze medal in 1996 and a silver in 2000. He then took New Zealand (2004) and China (2008) to the Games.

The British have a tough draw playing in a group with Australia, Russia, France, Canada and Brazil.

The Americans open up their Olympic play on July 28 against Croatia. Other teams in the Americans' group are China, Angola, the Czech Republic and Turkey.



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