July 24, 2021
How Stefanie Dolson powered USA 3X3 to a pair of early wins
Dolson scores 12 points over two games
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Chicago Sky center Stefanie Dolson, a study in concentration against Mongolia. (Photo credit: Alison Moran-Powers)
Mon Dieu! Sacre Bleu!
In their first-ever match on the world stage, with the First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron in attendance, the U.S. Olympic 3×3 (pronounced three-x-three, not three-on-three) Basketball Team (2-0) trounced #1-ranked France (1-1), by a score of 17-10 in an upset.
Dolson captures a pass one-handed against Mongolia. (Photo credit: Alison Moran-Powers)
Against France, Team USA led 5-4 and went on a 4-1 run before France scored three points to pull to within one point, 9-8. From there, a 5-0 spurt that was capped by a 2-pointer from the Las Vegas Aces’ Kelsey Plum gave the USA a 14-8 lead, and the Americans finished off the game for the 17-10 win.
Doing her adopted hometown proud, the Chicago Sky’s Stefanie Dolson led Team USA with seven points, shooting 7-of-8 from the field and grabbing six rebounds. Kelsey Plum added six points, Allisha Gray added three points and five rebounds and Jackie Young scored one point and grabbed four boards.
They followed up with a 21-9 rout of Mongolia (0-2) on the inaugural day of 3×3 basketball in Olympic history at Aomi Urban Sports Park.
Team USA was in control from start to finish against Mongolia. Dolson again made statement plays, scoring five points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots. Young had one point and four rebounds. Team USA was leading 11-1 when Plum sank a 2-pointer at 6:20. Mongolia made two 2-pointers before the USA ended it with a score from Dolson with 3:00 minutes left on the game clock.
Gray was 4-of-5 from 2-point line, on her way to nine points, while Plum scored six points,
Even in success, Dolson found room for improvement.
“I think just getting more comfortable with each other, really,” Dolson said of the two wins. “(Mongolia’s) a tough team to play against defensively, because they set a million screens. We’re not used to switching. I’m not used to being screened. So, I don’t think we were great defensively. But offensively, we’re just going to continue to work on spacing. These are the first few games that we’ve played with Jackie, so we’re just kind of finding that chemistry.”
What was it like to watch the game?
Orange seats, purple media area, gray floors. Dizzying, but fun in 3×3 Women’s basketball! (Photo: Alison Moran-Powers)
Though the music isn’t really distracting, or very audible on the broadcast, the colors are vibrant and distracting (see above) and the action is fast and furious. You almost want to have the shots timed to the urban music, more like a choreographed figure skating routine, but for those who’ve experienced mostly five-on-five basketball, it’s shorter, faster and fun.
For an in-person experience, it’s much different. The Next will politely agree with the Sports Illustrated reporter who described it as follows: “This spectacle that took place on half a basketball court, in front of more cameras than spectators, with neon lights flashing in the distance, hip-hop blaring over speakers and clouds threatening a downpour overhead, on the still-in-a-public-state-of-emergency island of Japan.”
Team USA is tied for first place with the Russian Olympic Committee (2-0). Both are undefeated after two matches.
On Sunday, Team USA takes on Romania at 4:30 a.m. EDT, followed by the Russian Olympic Committee at 8:25 a.m. EDT.