Aug. 14, 2004
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -
The dream of playing in the Olympics came true for former Notre Dame All-America center Ruth Riley on Saturday, as she scored six points and grabbed six rebounds in Team USA's 99-47 preliminary-round win over New Zealand at the Helliniko Indoor Hall in Athens, Greece. Riley also registered a game-high two blocks while knocking down three of her five shots from the floor in 16 minutes of action.
Riley is the first Notre Dame women's basketball player to take part in Olympic competition. She also is the first Irish cager of any kind to play in the Olympics since Adrian Dantley won a gold medal with the U.S. squad in 1976. Vince Boryla also took home the gold with the American basketball team in 1948, while Bill Hanzlik never got that chance in 1980 due to a U.S.-led boycott of the Moscow Games.
In their 2004 Olympic opener, the Americans struggled early, falling behind 7-0 to the Kiwis and forcing an early U.S. timeout with 8:11 left in the first quarter. However, Team USA regrouped and outscored New Zealand, 28-6 over the remainder of the opening period. The U.S. then went on an 18-6 run to begin the second quarter and by halftime, the game was in hand with the Americans owning a 63-24 lead.
The 52-point margin of victory was the fourth-largest for Team USA in its Olympic history and it helped extend the Americans' winning streak in the Olympics to 18 games, dating back to the 1992 Games in Barcelona, Spain. Five U.S. players scored in double figures on Saturday, led by Riley's teammate on the WNBA's Detroit Shock, Swin Cash, who tallied a game-high 19 points.
Riley and Cash (a graduate of the University of Connecticut) were part of a strong debut performance by BIG EAST Conference alumnae on Team USA. Combining with former UConn players Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, the BIG EAST quartet accounted for 43 points and 27 rebounds, nearly outdoing the entire New Zealand team in both categories (47 points, 28 rebounds). The conference foursome also logged a blistering .571 field goal percentage, making a combined 16 of 28 shots on the day.
The U.S. women's basketball team will return to the hardwood Monday when it takes on the Czech Republic at 2:30 p.m. Athens time (6:30 a.m. in South Bend/Chicago). The game will be televised live in the United States on the USA cable network. Here is the tentative remaining schedule for Team USA at the 2004 Olympic Games (all times listed are local to South Bend/Chicago -- television outlets are subject to change):
Mon., Aug. 16 -- 6:30 a.m. vs. Czech Republic (live on USA network)-- ND --
Wed., Aug. 18 -- 6:30 a.m. vs. South Korea (live on USA network)
Fri., Aug. 20 -- 6:30 a.m. vs. Spain (live on USA network)
Sun., Aug. 22 -- Noon vs. China (live on CNBC network)
Wed., Aug. 25 -- 6:30 a.m or 8:45 a.m. vs. TBA in quarterfinals (Game #1 on USA; Game #2 on MSNBC)
Fri., Aug. 27 -- 1:00 a.m. or 3:15 a.m. vs. TBA in semifinals (Game #1 on USA; Game #2 on MSNBC)
Sat., Aug. 28 -- 8:15 a.m. vs. TBA in gold medal game (live on USA network)