LUBBOCK, Texas -- Sheryl Swoopes was one free throw shy of a flawless homecoming.
She scored 19 points in a return to her alma mater as the USA women's basketball team beat Japan 118-66 Monday night for the team's 12th straight win.
Swoopes was 8-for-8 from the field, including both her 3-point
attempts, and missed only one free throw on Texas Tech's home
court. All of that came in 21 minutes.
"I just felt really good about coming back and playing, and my
shots were just falling," Swoopes said. "My teammates were just
teasing me saying, 'what are you going to do, what are you going to
show them?' I thought that gave the fans what they paid for."
She played two seasons at Texas Tech, where she led the Lady
Raiders to the 1993 NCAA title with a championship-game record 47
points in an 84-82 win over Ohio State. Texas Tech retired Swoopes'
No. 22 jersey Feb. 19, 1994.
It was the United States' second win in a three-game series with
Japan. The United States beat Japan 123-71 on Friday in Denver. The
two teams play their final game Wednesday in Houston.
USA coach Van Chancellor had high praise for Swoopes, who heard
the familiar "Swoooooopes" chant from fans after all of her
"Now she didn't tell you this, but she is one of the greatest,
greatest players to ever play the game," he said. "But let me
tell you what frustrates her is that she can't beat her coach in a
game of cards. I have to have a 23-4 record in hearts."
Ahead by 25 at the half, the U.S. team began the third quarter
on a 15-3 run to lead 78-41. Japan couldn't keep up with the speed,
height and finesse of the United States.
Lisa Leslie scored 18 points and Tamika Catchings added 17 for
Mutsuko Nagata scored 13 points, while Yuko Oga added 12 to lead
Diana Taurasi played in her second game for the national team
since leading Connecticut to its third straight NCAA championship
earlier this month. Taurasi hopes to make the Olympic team for this
summer's Aug. 13-29 games.