The U.S. 3X3 Team beat the Russian Olympic Committee, 18-15 today to win the first inaugural gold medal in the new event.
Stefanie Dolson lead Team USA with seven points and nine rebounds, while Kelsey Plum added five points, Allisha Gray, four points and six rebounds, and Jackie Young, two in the win.
“Since day one, it was tough competition. I mean, you couldn’t overlook anybody,” Gray said. “Every team was great. Overall, congrats to Russia as well. They are a great team. I’m just glad we were able to execute the game plan and come out with a victory.”
The U.S. started the night by holding off France, 18-16, in the semifinal. Against ROC, they reeled off a 12-5 lead before their opponents made a run of their own to cut the deficit to three points at 3:07 remaining.
Young hit two free throws to pad the lead back, but ROC came within three points three more times, yet the U.S. was able to stave off the challenge. They closed Olympic competition with a team-best 8-1 record, losing only to Japan the day before.
Dolson said her team had to fight hard to come out on top.
“I mean, we knew going into it that Russia was one of the strongest, physically, teams here,” she said. “They battled. They doubled. But thankfully, my teammates were able to make a lot of plays. We got them in foul trouble early. But the physicality of 3×3 in general is just unlike any other game, but it kind of makes it fun.”
The win capped off a tough year leading up to competition. In June, 2020, Plum tore her Achilles tendon, and rehabilitated well enough to be ready for WNBA season, where she has been averaging 13.5 points per game – third-best for the Las Vegas Aces.
Dolson and her family suffered bouts of COVID-19 at the height of the pandemic last year. And Young was a last-minute replacement for Katie Lou Samuelson, who tested positive for the virus just prior to the team’s planned departure for Tokyo.
“It just feels so special,” Plum said. “I didn’t think this was going to happen. I thought for me personally this was out of the cards, because of my Achilles, and then COVID.”