Team USA tops Lady Vols

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.- Diana Taurasi was a thorn in the side of the Lady Vols while she was at Connecticut and she continued her strong play against Tennessee in the U.S. National Team's 83-72 victory Sunday afternoon.

Taurasi scored a game high 28 points and had nine rebounds for a U.S. team that had four players in double figures. Tennessee fans got so frustrated by Taurasi's strong play that they sometimes booed her baskets and cheered when she got three consecutive fouls to begin the second half.

U.S. coach Anne Donovan said that Taurasi couldn't wait to make her return to Rocky Top.

"She couldn't wait to get to Knoxville, she was hoping she would get booed," Donovan said.

Tennessee's All-American Candace Parker started the game out slow only scoring four first half points, but turned it on after half time and finished with 22.

"That second half really showed hands down that she's the best player in college.... and one of the top players in the world, she shows it every night," Taurasi said.

Parker had played for the U.S. National Team when they won the gold medal at the FIBA Americas Championship in September and was playing against many of the same players that were her teammates a few months ago. Parker joked about how the U.S. team talked a bit to her during the game, but she made it evident that didn't take the loss lightly.

"I don't like to lose so I don't really think this is a moral victory because we lost," Parker said. "I'm really proud that we battled against some of the best players in the world, but we have to go back to the drawing board because there were possessions that we took off."

Parker was defended by Leslie who played in only her third game since having a baby. Leslie finished the game with 18 points, 12 rebounds, six blocks and six steals. Because Parker did not get the chance to play with Leslie over the summer U.S. coach Anne Donovan said she started dreaming of the duo she could use during the 2008 Olympics.

The Lady Vols started out slowly as they got down 9-3. Freshmen Sydney Smallbone and Angie Bjorklund seemed to be the only Tennessee players who could put the ball in the basket as they combined for 14 of the Lady Vols 16 points. Tennessee took the lead at 18-15, but the U.S. team finished the half on a 21-11 run.

"I thought our freshmen came in and did a nice job. It was good experience for them," Tennessee coach Pat Summitt said.

The U.S. National Team led most of the second half, but did receive a scare late in the game. Tennessee's Shannon Bobbitt hit two-straight three-pointers to get the Lady Vols within three points, but they were unable to get any closer than that.

Tennessee was playing for the first time in the newly renovated Thompson-Boling arena. The renovations replaced the 24,000 orange seats that used to occupy it and replaced them with black ones. Taurasi said that it was fun to return to Tennessee, but she missed the orange seats because it was something that she hated while she was at Connecticut.

Player of the Game: Diana Tauras: The former UConn star scored a game high 28 points and had nine rebounds in the win. It was evident that Taurasi got under the skin of Tennessee fans early because they cheered everytime she picked up a foul.

Play of the Game:Though it wasn't one play, the U.S. National Team's 10-2 run to close out the game. Tennessee's Shannon Bobbitt had just cut the lead to 73-70 on back to back three-pointers, but the U.S. didn't let the Lady Vols get any closer than that.

Next up for Tennessee: Carson-Newman (exhibition) Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Next up for U.S. National Team: @ Baylor Tuesday, Nov. 6

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)