At least there's one U.S. basketball team that can still shoot straight. And these U.S. women rebound it pretty well, too.
With a dominating performance on the boards and two big scoring spurts, the United States overcame another slow start and beat the Czech Republic
The victory came a day after the U.S. men suffered a stunning 92-73 loss to Puerto Rico in their Athens opener. While decisive, the women's victory
wasn't exactly a walkover.
The United States (2-0) fell behind New Zealand 7-0 in its opener on Saturday, and trailed by nine in this one because the Czechs seemingly couldn't
miss at the outset.
But the United States kept taking the ball aggressively to the basket, got the Czech starters in foul trouble and eventually got it together.
With key contributions from Tina Thompson and reserve Yolanda Griffith, the United States went on a 14-point spurt to take the lead for good, then
blew it open with a 16-2 run at the start of the second half.
Lisa Leslie led the United States with 15 points, Thompson scored 12 and Griffith had 10. Quicker than their taller opponents, the United States
outrebounded the Czech Republic 43-22 and crashed the offensive boards especially hard.
When Leslie scored on a putback early in the first half, it was the sixth shot of the possession. A little more than a minute later, the United States
rebounded three misses before Tamika Catchings scored.
Former Vanderbilt standout Zuzana Klimesova scored 18 to lead the Czech Republic, which gave the Americans fits for much of the first half with its
snappy offensive execution, using screens and crisp passes to get wide-open jump shots that usually went in. When 6-foot-6 Petra Kulichova scored on a
follow shot late in the first quarter, the Czechs led 21-12.
Then the fouls started to mount and the United States came back. The biggest blow to the Czech Republic came when floor leader Romana Hamzova went out
with her fourth foul less than nine minutes into the game and her team leading 21-14.
The United States outscored the Czech Republic 26-9 over the next 7½ minutes, finishing the surge with 14 straight points to open a 30-20 lead. The
Americans got the ball inside time and time again, drew fouls and converted the free throws.
Thompson scored eight points during that stretch and Griffith had seven, including a three-point play that she finished after cutting across the lane
and taking a sharp pass from Leslie.
At the other end, the Americans got better pressure on the Czech shooters, who started missing layups as well as jumpers.
The Czech Republic drew to 42-35 at halftime on Klimesova's buzzer-beating 3-pointer, but that's as close as it got. Catchings hit a 3 to start the
second half, and the Americans were off and running.
Swoopes' 3-pointer made it 58-37. She followed that with a sweet turnaround shot and then a layup after swiping the ball near midcourt, giving her
seven straight points after she had been blanked in the first half.
There would be no more threats from the Czech Republic after that.