July 20, 2015
TORONTO – A pair of South Carolina women’s basketball standouts, center Alaina Coates and guard Tiffany Mitchell, earned silver medal honors at the Pan American Games on Monday, as USA Basketball fell to Canada, 81-73, in the championship game.
Coates collected two defensive rebounds in the early going for the Americans, who built a 15-11 lead with just over four minutes left in the first quarter following a 3-pointer from guard Moriah Jefferson. Two free throws from Canada’s Tamara Tatham cut the USA’s lead to just two (15-13), but the Americans closed the quarter on an 8-0 run to take a 23-13 lead.
Foul trouble kept Coates out of the game for the remainder of the half, as the rising junior played less than six minutes in the first two quarters. The Canadians took advantage of her absence, outscoring the U.S., 23-13, in the second quarter.
Canada used a 10-0 run to get within one (26-25) with just under five minutes left until halftime, and the two teams entered the break tied at 36.
The Canadians continued their momentum following halftime, scoring 17 of the second half’s first 22 points. Coates tallied two more rebounds in the third quarter, and she finished the night with a team-high nine boards.
A turnover with 2:34 left in the third quarter led to a transition bucket for Canada to make it 58-43 and force a U.S. timeout. Coates’ first free throw of the night cut the U.S. deficit to 16 (60-44) late in the third quarter, and her first made field goal came on the next possession and made it 62-47 Canada. She finished with six points.
A 13-0 run by the Americans brought the U.S. to within five (62-57), but Canada responded with a 5-0 run of its own to push the lead back to 10 halfway through the final quarter. The U.S. couldn’t get any closer than five the rest of the way, and the Americans settled for silver medal honors.
Mitchell did not see time on the floor during the U.S.’s run in the Pan American Games after sustaining an ankle injury. Coates finished the tournament with averages of 11 points and a team-high 10 rebounds.