Johnson, Stricklen contribute to team effort

Shenzhen, China - The 2011 USA Basketball Women's World University Games Team (2-0) had six players score in double digits and everyone record at least six points as the U.S. shot past Slovakia (0-2) 114-63 on Monday morning.

Tennessee seniors Glory Johnson and Shekinna Stricklen each contributed to the winning cause as Johnson tossed in seven points and grabbed six rebounds while Stricklen added six points and six boards.

"It was a really physical game, and we knew it would be going into it," Johnson said. "We knew we were going to have to play through a lot of adversity, and we just need to be ready for anything and everything. I think we took care of things, and got a good win today.

"Our focus was better today. We kind of slacked at the end of the game a bit, letting them get easy scores and open jumps shots. We need to keep working on playing 40 minutes of focused basketball."

Leading the balanced effort with 14 points apiece were Skylar Diggins, Nnemkadi Ogwumike and Devereaux Peters while Chiney Ogwumike scored 13 points and Elena Delle Donne and Odyssey Sims had 10 apiece.

Further, Delle Donne, who shot 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, produced the only double-double after securing 10 boards, while Sims was credited with game-highs of five assists and three steals.

"I think other teams don't really know what to expect because everyone brings something different to the game," Johnson said. "I think that makes us hard to guard."

The USA will close preliminary play on Aug. 16 (6:00 a.m. EDT) against Great Britain (1-1), which fell to Brazil (1-1) 68-55. Medal quarterfinals are slated for Aug. 18, semifinals will be played Aug. 19 and the finals will be held on Aug. 21.

"I think we played a little better than yesterday," said Bill Fennelly, USA World University Games Team and Iowa State University head coach. "The pace of the game was what we wanted. Defensively, we struggled in the first quarter and gave up some stuff, but overall everyone contributed.

"We've seen zone back-to-back days, and offensively we were a little more efficient. Anytime you score 114 points, you can't complain too much."

Diggins said, "I thought it was a good overall effort. (Slovakia) is not a bad team at all. They came out and really competed with us. They never backed down. We had a better start than in our first game, but defensively in the first quarter I think we gave up too many points.

"In the second quarter, we really picked it up, and I think that's a credit to a lot of people that came off of the bench and kept the intensity up. I thought everyone did a great job."

The Americans led wire-to-wire as Nneka Ogwumike got the game's scoring started with a jumper at 9:49 and her sister, Chiney, hit a bucket on the USA's next possession. After Slovakia got on the board, the U.S. strung together eight unanswered points and it looked as if the game would be put away early.

Slovakia began countering the USA's attack, however, and at the end of the first quarter the Europeans trailed by just 10, 30-20.

That was as close as the game would be for the remainder of the contest.

Opening the second quarter with seven straight points from three different players, the American women expanded their lead to 37-20 in a little more than a minute. Slovakia got a quick five points from Katarina Pindrochova to stem the tide and close within 12, 37-25 at 7:14.

Chiney Ogwumike grabbed an offensive board and put it back up for two points at 6:53, sparking a 15-0 scoring run from which Slovakia never was able to recover. During the USA's spurt, which saw six different players put points on the board, the defensive pressure by the red, white and blue produced five European turnovers and forced Slovakia into five missed shots.

The run was capped by a steal by Sims and a layup by Stricklen, one of the USA's nine fast-break buckets in the game, and at 3:10 the game was well in hand, 52-25.

"Everyone on our team is a threat, and as coach says, ‘The best person to make the play is the open person,'" said Chiney Ogwumike. "We rely on our teammates and we share the basketball, and that makes us a better team."

By halftime the Americans were in command 60-34. Outscoring Slovakia 25-19 in the third, the U.S. won the fourth quarter 29-15 for the final.

Maria Felixova was her side's leading scorer with 13 points.

"Today, just knowing that fouls were going to be called a lot quicker, we just had to be ready for it," Johnson said. "We struggled with that in the first half. Myself, I got two early fouls and played like two minutes in the first half. In the second half, I knew I couldn't foul. We have to be a little smarter and know that they are going to call certain things.

"I know my teammates have my back, and when I'm sitting out they can take care of it. Everyone has their part, and when someone goes down other people have to pick up the game. We did that tonight."

Hitting a blistering 51.1 percent of its shots from the field (45-88 FGs), including 36.0 percent from 3-point (9-25 3-pt FGs), the Americans held Slovakia to just 38.1 percent shooting from the field (24-63 FGs) and 25.0 percent from 3-point land (4-16 3-pt FGs). The U.S. also dominated on the glass, 52-28, dished out 20 assists and notched 15 steals on 23 Slovakian turnovers.

"Defensively, we didn't give up as many drives to the basket, but they hit more jump shots than the last team," Johnson said. "But coach said he will take those, so we will let him take the blame for those jump shots and keep focused on stopping guard penetration."


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