Leslie scores 17 as U.S. team rolls to 75-24 victory
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Lisa Leslie took a pass in the lane, shook off an aggressive defender and gracefully put the ball up and in for a layup.
It was a sight that made U.S. national team coach Anne Donovan smile.
Kara Braxton had 18 points, Leslie added 17 and the national team shook off a slow start for a 75-24 exhibition win over No. 11 Texas A&M on Sunday night, the sixth straight victory over a Top 25 team.
Leslie looks to be returning to form in her return after taking off a year to have a baby and scored 15 of her 17 points in the first half. She was shaken up after being hit in the stomach with about 14 minutes to play and did not return to the game.
"She did really well tonight," Donovan said. "When she got down low, it was tough for A&M to do anything with her down there. That's where we need her to play. If she's down there, she's very effective and we have great perimeter players to complement her."
Leslie, who had a daughter in June, said she was feeling better on Sunday because the team had two days off before meeting the Aggies. As her own toughest critic, she isn't ready to say she's back to her old self just yet.
"I just always focus on what I'm doing wrong," the three-time Olympic gold medalist said. "Like my timing sometimes is not always on. My ability to run up and down is getting better and my jumping also, I'm getting that back."
The U.S. team had 16 first half turnovers, 11 of them coming in the first nine minutes to allow Texas A&M to keep it close early.
The national team led 10-8 with about 12 minutes left in the first half before scoring 21 straight points to pull away from the Aggies and go on to its most lopsided win in the sixth game of an eight-city college tour.
After that they held Texas A&M without a basket for about 11½ minutes, until a jumper by Sydney Colson made it 31-10 with 19 seconds left in the first half.
"We're looking to get better every time we play and I think our team chemistry is getting better," Donovan said.
The scrappy Aggies were simply overmatched. At one point 5-foot-3 A'Quonesia Franklin tried for a layup in the lane and Leslie almost lazily reached her arm straight out to knock it down.
The national team stretched its lead to 43-12 with a 10-2 run to open the second half. The Aggies didn't score until Ashlaa Horton's jump shot with about 15 minutes remaining.
Danielle Gant scored six of eight points in a span where Texas A&M outscored the national team 8-2 to make it 45-19, but they wouldn't get any closer.
The national team scored the next 11 points to improve its lead to 37 points about midway through the second half. The U.S. didn't shoot well from 3-point range early and was 0-of-7 before Diana Taurasi's 3 with 10:19 to play. They finished 3-of-11.
Braxton scored six of the national team's last seven points before halftime, capped by a layup with one second left that put the U.S. ahead 33-10 at the break.
Seimone Augustus added 13 points for the national team and Swin Cash had 11. Kara Lawson had 11 rebounds.
The Aggies made 11 of 64 shots and missed all 10 from 3-point range. Texas A&M was led by Gant with nine points.
Texas A&M coach Gary Blair was disappointed in his team's lack of execution.
"We've got to go back," he said. "We've got to work. It doesn't matter if we're playing the Dallas Mavericks or U.S. Olympic team or whatever, we expect more. I've never been beaten like that before in my life."
Before the game, the national team members presented the Aggies with their Big 12 Conference Championship rings.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press