Team USA became the first women’s 3×3 basketball Olympic gold medalists today after a close battle with their Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) rivals.
The Americans sealed an 18-15 victory at Tokyo’s Aomi Urban Sports Park ensuring they were the first-ever winners of the competition, which made its Olympic debut here.
Stefanie Dolson, at 6ft-5in center and daunting presence under the basket, led all scorers with seven points, including 4-of-6 from the free throw line and nine rebounds, making the Chicago Sky star the toast of the team.
Team USA’s Jacquelyn Young, Kelsey Plum, Stefanie Dolson and Allisha Gray (L-R) after winning the first women’s 3×3 basketball gold medal match against the Russian Olympic Committee
The US converted eight of 11 free throws, which ended up being the difference in the contest.
Kelsey Plum scored five points, four on drives, while Allisha Gray added four and Jackie Young had two. Gray also lines up for Dallas Wings and Plum and Young are Las Vegas Aces team mates.
As was the case throughout the tournament, the USA relied on its slashing drives, solid inside game and offensive rebounding.
Stefanie Dolson, at 6ft-5in center and daunting presence under the basket, led all scorers with seven points, including 4-of-6 from the free throw line and nine rebounds, making the Chicago Sky star the toast of the team
The Americans missed all seven of the two-point shots they took in the gold medal match but made up the difference by collecting eight offensive boards.
Anastasiia Logunova led the ROC with six points and five rebounds.
America stormed their opponents from the off, highly confident having lost just one in eight games en route to the final and having overcome France in a nervy semifinal 18-6 a few hours earlier.
China won the bronze medal by defeating France 16-14 earlier in the evening.
How 3×3 basketball differs from 5×5
In 3×3 basketball, a coin flip rather than a tip-off decides which team gets first possession.
The game is played on less than half a rubber court with a 12-second shot clock and no inbound passes.
Winners are determined by the first to 21 points, or whoever is leading after 10 minutes. Shots go by 1s and 2s.
If the score is tied after 10 minutes, overtime will be played and the first team to score two points wins. Games never take longer than 30 minutes.
A 3×3 game uses a size 6 ball, versus a 5×5 game, which uses a size 7 ball. The smaller ball suits the speed-over-stamina mentality of this fast-paced game.
Players also have more strategic freedoms since coaches are not allowed courtside.