Aug. 18, 2004
ATHENS, Greece -
Former Notre Dame All-America center and 2001 consensus National Player of the Year Ruth Riley scored seven points and grabbed five rebounds as the U.S. women's basketball team overcame an early deficit to cruise past South Korea, 80-57 on Wednesday in a preliminary round game at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Riley's seven points were the most she has scored in three Olympic contests this year -- she is averaging 5.0 points and 4.3 rebounds per game with a team-best .667 field goal percentage thus far at the Athens Games.
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.
For the third consecutive game, Team USA (3-0) struggled in the early going, trailing South Korea, 23-20 after one quarter. The Americans then reeled off nine consecutive points to open the second period, but the Koreans (0-3) rallied to close within one point at 33-32 with 2:42 remaining in the first half. That's when the U.S. went to work, outscoring South Korea, 35-7 during the next 12:42 and effectively putting the game on ice. With the victory, the Americans remain atop Group B at this year's Olympics and have won 20 consecutive games in Olympic competition, dating back to the 1992 Games in Barcelona, Spain.
Lisa Leslie led Team USA with 25 points (on 11-of-13 shooting) and seven rebounds, while Tina Thompson added 18 points and seven caroms. The U.S. once again turned in an outstanding defensive effort, dominating the Koreans on the glass (45-19) while forcing 20 turnovers. In three games at this year's Olympics, the American squad is outscoring its opponents by 31.3 points per game and owns a +25.7 rebound margin.
The U.S. women's basketball team will face a stern Group B test Friday when it plays Spain at 2:30 p.m. Athens time (6:30 a.m. in South Bend). The game will be televised live in the United States on the USA cable network. Spain was 2-0 in Group B heading into Wednesday night's matchup with New Zealand -- the winner of the U.S.-Spain contest would clinch the top spot in the group.
Here is the tentative remaining schedule for Team USA at the 2004 Olympic Games (all times listed are local to South Bend -- television outlets are subject to change):-- ND --
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)