INDIANAPOLIS, AUG. 23 -- Despite the presence of Teresa Edwards and Anne Donovan on the U.S. women's basketball team, Coach Jody Conradt had spent a lot of time this week talking about the play of forward Katrina McClain. Conradt was proud to gush more praise over McClain today.
After getting zero rebounds in the first half and seeing her team struggle with Brazil, McClain got mad enough at herself to respond with 11 rebounds in the second half, and that was a major factor in the U.S. team's 111-87 gold medal victory.
McClain, who also scored a game-high 30 points, was easily the most valuable U.S. player. "She asserted herself every game," Conradt said. "She's powerful, dominating, imposing. And all those adjectives applied today."
At halftime, when the United States was hanging on for a 53-50 lead, Conradt and her players noticed that the rebounding was tied, 14 for each team. And the U.S. women, just as quick as the Brazilians and noticeably taller, decided to do something about it.
The North Americans outrebounded their opponents, 28-10, the second half and won by relentlessly going inside for two and three shots in quite a few possessions.
Hortencia Marcari, the scoring machine her people call simply Hortencia, scored 30 points for Brazil. And Paula Silva had 26. But the two could have totaled 80 points had the U.S. team not played some pretty inspired defense in the final 20 minutes.
Edwards, McClain's teammate at the University of Georgia, played tough against Marcari, who scored more than 100 points in a recent exhibition game. Fran Harris from the University of Texas did an equally creditable job covering Silva.
"You may not think that holding people to 30 and 26 points is good defense," Conradt said. "But I'd have to argue with you."
Marcari said the defense and rebounding eventually wore down her team. "In the second half, we wanted to do a lot of things but we just got tired from the pressure," she said through an interpreter.
Silva scored to keep Brazil within 64-60 five minutes into the second half, but the United States went on an 18-8 run and continually built the lead thereafter.