The United States women’s basketball team fell in a pre-Olympic scrimmage in Las Vegas on Friday afternoon. The Americans took on Australia at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, and despite the fact that the Aussies saw star center Liz Cambage depart from the team less than 24 hours earlier, the Opals came out on top, 70-67, marking the first time since 2011 that the U.S. lost an exhibition and the first time since 2010 that Australia defeated the United States.
A pair of Seattle Storm players led both sides, as Ezi Magbegor and Breanna Stewart each scored 17 points. Despite that, Stewart’s efficiency from the floor was a reflection of the poor afternoon the Americans had all over the place: Stewart went 6-for-16 from the field and 2-for-8 from three, with the United States shooting 25-for-67 (37.3 percent) and 2-for-18 (11.1 percent), respectively.
Those shooting woes went on for the entirety of the second half, and as a result, the No. 2 team in the world rallied from 16 points down to come out on top. While Team USA took a comfortable 41-28 lead into halftime, the Aussies came out with a chip on their shoulders in the third, outscoring the Americans in the frame, 23-13. The fourth quarter saw a 19-11 edge for the Opals, too, while the United States threw up brick after brick. Even on the game’s final possession, Stewart was able to get a look that could have forced overtime, but her attempt from behind the arc went long.
Australia tops USA, Stewie’s three misses on the final possession pic.twitter.com/Jj10GLMRnl
— CJ Fogler (@cjzer0) July 16, 2021
Australia was able to capitalize on a rough night for their opponents in some of the ways you expect when an underdog pulls an upset. The Opals more or less played the U.S. to a draw in the turnover battle (the Americans had 18, the Australians had 17) and went 10-for-26 from behind the arc. Beyond the big scoring night by Magbegor, Rebecca Allen’s 11 points and Stephanie Talbot’s 10 led the way.
The loss comes days after the United States fell to a team of WNBA All-Stars, and it marks the first time since 2011 that the Americans lost an exhibition game. The team has one more exhibition — a Sunday evening tilt against Nigeria — before heading over to Tokyo for the Olympics. They’ll begin their quest for a seventh consecutive gold medal on July 27 against Nigeria, with Japan and France also in their group.