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U.S. women’s basketball team loses to college program for first time since 1999

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The U.S. women’s basketball team suffered its first defeat to a college program in 20 years, falling 93-86 on Saturday to Oregon, which is ranked No. 1 in the AP preseason poll.

It was an exhibition, but the U.S. starting lineup included Olympic champions Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, Sylvia Fowles and Seimone Augustus. A full box score is here.

The U.S. lacked some of its top bigs. WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne, Brittney Griner, Tina Charles and Breanna Stewart were not part of the four-game, eight-day college tour.

The Ducks, led by senior triple-double machine Sabrina Ionescu, became the second college team to beat the U.S. after Tennessee’s 65-64 win in 1999. The U.S. has played 44 games against NCAA teams since 1995.

Ionescu, who scored 30 points, is also a two-time reigning U.S. national champion in 3×3, a new Olympic event, making her a possible choice for either Olympic team.

The U.S. women, under new coach Dawn Staley, previously beat Stanford (95-80), Oregon State (81-58) and Texas A&M (93-63) in the college series.

The Americans are on a 46-game win streak between the Olympics and FIBA World Cup dating to 2006.

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MORE: U.S. 3×3 basketball teams get one chance to qualify for Olympics

Rick Pitino takes over Greek basketball’s Olympic quest

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Rick Pitino has agreed to coach the Greek national basketball team and lead the country’s effort to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The Greek basketball federation said Friday that Pitino will be officially presented on Monday, when details of his agreement will be announced.

“Really honored to be coaching the Greek National team,” Pitino wrote on Twitter. “Have a lot of work and preparation ahead but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

The 67-year-old American coached Greek club Panathinaikos last season and guided the team to victory in the country’s cup competition before returning to the United States. He remains popular among Greek fans despite his outspoken criticism of smoking and rowdy behavior by spectators at games.

NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and his brother Thanasis Antetokounmpo both play for Greece and the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Greeks narrowly missed out on reaching the quarterfinals at the World Cup in China in September.

Pitino spent much of his career jumping between the college ranks and the NBA, coaching the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks as well as Kentucky and Louisville.

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Nneka Ogwumike, A’ja Wilson help U.S. women wear down college hoops opponents

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Stanford and Oregon State each managed to stick with the U.S. women’s basketball team for a little while but couldn’t match the scoring output of Nneka Ogwumike and A’ja Wilson in a pair of exhibition games on the West Coast.

On Saturday, Stanford led 20-15 after the first quarter but allowed 29 points in the second to fall behind 44-37. The Cardinal stayed within single digits, trailing only 68-62 after the third quarter, but the U.S. pulled away to a 95-80 win.

Ogwumike, a Stanford alum, was unstoppable on her former home floor. She hit 10 of 12 shots, missing only a pair of 3-pointers, to finish with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Wilson added 22 points, and Sue Bird had eight assists in her first U.S. game of 2019.

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Two days later, Chelsea Gray joined the team after getting married over the weekend and chipped in eight points and four assists to help the U.S. pulled away from Oregon State in the second half. The Beavers kept it close in the first half, trailing 36-31 at the half, but the U.S. shot 70.4% in the second half to take an 81-58.

Wilson led the scoring in the second game with 18 points and nine rebounds. Ogwumike had 17 points and six rebounds, while Sylvia Fowles shot 6-for-7 for 13 points.

The U.S. tour continues Thursday at Texas A&M and Saturday at Oregon. The team then departs for the FIBA Americas Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament in Argentina, though the U.S. has already qualified for the 2020 Olympics with its championship in the 2018 World Cup.

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