HAINING, China -- Sylvia Fowles scored eight of her 13 points during a late fourth-quarter run to lead the Americans to a 84-74 victory over pesky Latvia on Sunday night in the FIBA Diamond Ball tournament -- a tuneup for the Olympics.
Unlike past U.S. women's basketball teams, this group has not had much playing time together due to injuries, overseas commitments, and the WNBA season. They were only able to start training for the first time together last Monday and are still working on developing chemistry on the court.
At times the U.S. players looked to be in total harmony, scoring at will and containing Latvia. At other times, the Americans struggled, turning the ball over and missing defensive assignments that led to easy baskets.
Anete Jekabsone scored 24 points to lead Latvia.
The Americans struggled early defensively as Latvia went up 12-7 in the first few minutes. Then the U.S. got going with a 24-6 run to close the quarter. Diana Taurasi scored all seven of her points during the spurt, including a nifty drive to the basket for a three-point play.
Latvia battled back behind Jekabsone and Zane Tamane. Jekabsone, who scored 34 points in Latvia's opening win over Russia, hit two 3s late in the second period to get Latvia within 43-36 with 1:20 left. The U.S. led by nine at the half, but had a scare when Candace Parker injured her right shoulder right before the break. She didn't play in the second half.
Latvia hung tough in the second half behind Jekabsone. After leading by nine at the half, the U.S. couldn't put Latvia away. Jekabsone's 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter pulled Latvia within 71-67 before the U.S. went on a 13-3 run to finally put the game away. Fowles had two layups and two putbacks during the spurt.
Tamane added 12 and Ieva Kublina had 10 for Latvia.
Tina Thompson finished with 12 points for the U.S. Sue Bird and Seimone Augustus each added 11.
Up next for the U.S. is a matchup with Becky Hammon and her Russian teammates Monday night. Latvia beat Russia 75-69 in its opening game.
Australia beat China 84-70 in the first game Sunday.