July 16, 2015
TORONTO ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬” USA Basketball and South Carolina center Alaina Coates opened play in the 2015 Pan American Games with a 75-69 win over Brazil at the Ryerson Athletic Centre Thursday night. The Americans opened a big lead in the first quarter then held off a third-quarter surge from Brazil, helped by two key defensive rebounds among her nine total for the Gamecocks’ rising junior.
Coates drew the start in her first career appearance in a USA Basketball uniform and helped her team to a 25-17 lead after the first quarter. The Brazilians held the American in check in the second quarter, matching their 14-point output in the period. Coates led the team with six rebounds in the half after opening the game with a pair of free throws.
Brazil mounted a strong attack in the third quarter as the U.S. went scoreless for nearly 4:30 midway through the period. The drought turned a 12-point lead, 46-34, into two-point deficit as Carina Martin’s hit a 3-pointer to put Brazil on top 48-46 with 3:24 left in the quarter. The Americans drew even on a pair of free throws from Moriah Jefferson, but Brazil’s confidence was soaring.
Coates helped shut down the momentum, reeling in a pair of defensive rebounds to keep the United States in front. On the next possession, she manned the high post and found Breanna Stewart on the block for a bucket that turned into a three-point play with just 1:58 on the clock. That move started a 7-2 run that closed out the period with the Americans leading 57-50. In the fourth quarter, Brazil got no closer than four points as the U.S. closed out its effort.
The U.S. is back in action on Friday night against the Dominican Republic with tipoff scheduled for 9 p.m. (ET). The game will air live on ESPN3.