|Cuba's Yakelyn Plutin, who led her team with 23 points and 10 rebounds, tries to get past the defense of the US's Tina Thompson. (IVAN ALVARADO/REUTERS)|
Parker lifts US over Cuba in opener
VALDIVIA, Chile - Candace Parker scored 21 points and Katie Smith added two late 3-pointers to help the United States hold off Cuba, 85-79, in their opening game at the FIBA Americas tournament yesterday.
With the score tied at 71 midway through the fourth quarter, Smith hit consecutive 3-pointers.
"I'm glad I could do my part," said Smith, who finished with 13 points. "It gave us a little energy when it was needed, but I got some good picks from my teammates in that zone."
Cuba answered with a basket to close within 4, but Parker made one of two free throws, Seimone Augustus added a layup, and Parker knocked down a jumper to put the game away.
"I think it was a great win for us," said US coach Anne Donovan. "Cuba is a great team and we've known that for a long time. They're very solid."
Former UConn star Diana Taurasi added 16 points for the US.
Yakelyn Plutin led Cuba with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
After finishing third at the World Championships, the United States was forced to play in the FIBA Americas tournament. Only the winner earns an automatic bid to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
The United States will face Jamaica today. Jamaica lost to Canada, 68-47, in its opener.
The US is 6-0 against Cuba, with three wins each in the Olympics and Worlds.