Military Sports: Undefeated USA Women’s Basketball Team beats China, 73-56

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(Army photo by Gary Sheftick)

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON — After losing to China by one point last year at the Conseil International du Sport Militaire’s Women’s Basketball Championship held in France, USA coach Army Lt. Col. William Johnson was determined that Team USA would stay on the ball at this year’s tournament.

“Don’t leave the basketball,” Johnson implored his players. “If you see the ball across half court — you attack it.”

The Team USA women listened, forcing 25 turnovers en route to a 73-56 win over China in Paige Fieldhouse July 27. It was the third day of action in the CISM Women’s Basketball Championship.

Offensively, Team USA dominated the boards with 35 rebounds compared to China’s nine. If a shot missed the net, USA’s squad kept after it, scoring 26 second-chance points.

USA’s Vanessa Lamison from Fort Bliss, Texas, was the game’s leading scorer with 16 points. Shaniqua Bennet from U.S. Coast Guard Station Curtis Bay in Baltimore was second with nine points and six steals.

Danielle Salley, who just graduated from the Army’s Officer Candidate School last month, had eight points and 10 rebounds.

“It feels good,” Salley said about the win over China, despite getting elbowed above the eye while fighting for a rebound with China’s Liting Zang. “I ended up coming down with that rebound though,” she added.

Salley’s mother, Debra Mitchell Ward from Milwaukee, was here watching her daughter with pride. She expressed concern about the elbow to her daughter’s eye, but added that she’s “a big girl.”.

“She’s my biggest fan,” Salley said of her mother. Her aunt Patricia Rush from Wisconsin was also here cheering. This was the first time her family has been able to see her play in a while, since most of the games are so far from home. Last year’s CISM basketball championship was held in France.

Salley was on the USA squad last year that lost to China and she has remained friends with some of the Chinese players. In fact, Zang is her Facebook friend.

The win over China tied USA for first place with Brazil in this year’s tournament after the home team beat France on the first day of the championship, 85-53; and Canada the following day, 82-25.