Women's Hoops: Pan Am Games Update

The time and the opponent are not yet known, but on Friday afternoon Vanderbilt senior forward Jenni Benningfield and her USA teammates will be competing in the semifinals of the women's basketball competition at the Pan American Games in Santo Domingo.

Team USA clinched a slot in the medals round on Tuesday afternoon by defeating Argentina 93-78 in the preliminary round. The victory boosts the USA's overall record to 3-1 with only one game remaining against the host team from the Dominican Republic. Win or lose, the USA advances to the medal round.

The victory over Argentina continues the remarkable reversal of fortune for the team. After losing three exhibition games in Cuba before the Pan Am games began, the USA lost again to the Cubans in their first game in the preliminary round on Saturday. The loss was particularly stunning because the USA had taken a 46-32 halftime lead, only to lose it when they were outscored 52-16 in the final two quarters.

But then everything changed. Following that loss, the USA barely squeaked by Canada by a score of 56-53 on Sunday. In both of those first two games, the USA shot less than 40% from the field.

Then suddenly, on Monday against the heavily favored Brazilians, the inside-outside game started to click. Jamie Carey, from the University of Texas, who had struggled from the field in the first two games, knocked down six of six 3-pointers, while Benningfield and Georgetown's Rebekkah Brunson added 13 each from the inside. In all, the USA hit a sizzling 56% of their shots from the field, as they defeated Brazil 77-64.

Tuesday's game was the same, but different. The USA once against shot over 50% from the field, but instead of a single player dominating the scorer, five different players from the USA scored in double figures. The USA also dominated on the boards, out-rebounding Argentina 39-16.

Team USA (3-1) hopes to build on their momentum in the final day of play in the preliminary round on Wednesday as they take on the Dominican Republic (0-4). In other games, Cuba (4-0) plays Brazil (3-1), and Canada (1-3) faces Argentina (1-3).

Preliminary Round Standings

Cuba 4-0
USA 3-1
Brazil 3-1
Argentina 1-3
Canada 1-3
Dominican Republic 0-4

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Photos of #11 Janel McCarville, #13 Jenni Benningfield, #14 Rebekkah Brunson, and #4 Jamie Carey by Daniel Anaya for USA Basketball.

Click on thumbnails to view a larger image.

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