The USA women's 3x3 basketball team had its toughest game yet but remains unbeaten in the Olympics and has clinched the top seed in Wednesday's semifinals. The Americans defeated China 21-19 Monday and, with one game left in preliminary play, are 6-0 as the sport makes its Olympic debut.
The game-winning shot vs. China came from Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum, who hit from behind the arc (worth two points in 3x3) with 34 seconds left. In 3x3, teams play 10-minute games; the winner is the first to 21 or whichever team is leading when time expires.
With the Seattle Storm's Katie Lou Samuelson forced to miss the Olympics because of COVID-19 protocol, Plum is the Americans' primary threat from behind the arc. She struggled there in Team USA's first game earlier Monday, going 0-of-6 in a 17-13 victory over Italy. She made both her long-range attempts vs. China, though. Plum had 10 points against China, and three points and four assists against Italy.
The Americans relied on their defense in the first game, holding the Italians to 37% shooting overall. Dallas Wings guard Allisha Gray and Chicago Sky center Stefanie Dolson combined for 12 points and 13 rebounds against Italy. Against China, they combined for eight and 11. Las Vegas guard Jackie Young, who replaced Samuelson on the four-member team, had five points combined in the two games.
Team USA, the only unbeaten squad in the eight-team field, finishes preliminary play against Japan on Tuesday (12:30 a.m. ET). The Americans' semifinal against a to-be-determined foe is at 4 a.m. ET Wednesday, with the bronze-medal game at 7:45 a.m. ET and the gold-medal game at 8:55 a.m. ET that day.
Gray, who in 2017 won an NCAA championship with South Carolina and was WNBA Rookie of the Year, said she's enjoying 3x3 although there are things players have to adjust to with the fast-paced half-court game.
"Like playing outside, the humidity, wind, cardio -- it's real physical," Gray said. "You don't get as many fouls called as in 5-on-5. I just think 3-on-3 is a great addition to the Olympics because it gives people a different view of another game of basketball."