September 11, 2014

NEWARK, Del. (AP) Maya Moore and Sue Bird proudly showed off their newly acquired dog tags.

The USA Basketball veterans and their teammates were given the honorary medallions by members of the Armed Forces at a halftime ceremony of the national team's intrasquad exhibition game Thursday night.

''This is very symbolic of what we experienced this week and hopefully will continue to experience,'' Moore said.

The intrasquad game, which Moore's Red team won 95-87, capped a four-day training camp in the area. The U.S. women's team spent the first three days at the Naval Academy before the exhibition game which was played at the University of Delaware.

''The halftime ceremony was great,'' Bird said. ''This whole week was special to meet some members of the military and learn about them.''

There was a moment of silence before the game started in honor of the 9/11 anniversary. At the half, the players were given dog tags by members of all different branches of the Armed Forces.

''This being 9/11 the anniversary, what we're trying to do is make a commitment that our players made to play for USA Basketball and show there's a commitment that these men and women in front of you here, they make every day,'' U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said. ''They make a commitment for our country. They are the greatest team in the world and we aspire to be just like them.''

Nneka Ogwumike scored 26 points in a losing effort for the White team.

The entertaining back and forth contest showcased some of the best talent in the world. Maya Moore connected with Angel McCoughtry for three beautiful alley-oop layups. Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike finished off the fastbreak while UConn junior Breanna Stewart was all over the floor on offense and defense.

With the game tied at 74 in the fourth quarter, Lindsay Whalen scored six points for the Red team during an 11-2 run that put the game away. Whalen is one of eight from the 2012 Olympic team in the player pool.

One of the notable players missing from the game was Elena Delle Donne, the former Delaware star who led the Blue Hens to two NCAA tournament appearances but is currently playing in the WNBA Finals with the Chicago Sky. Delle Donne, along with teammates Courtney Vandersloot and Sylvia Fowles, as well as Phoenix Mercury players Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner, DeWanna Bonner and Candice Dupree are all part of the U.S. pool from which the world championship team will be chosen.

Game 3 of that best-of-five series is Friday night with the Mercury leading 2-0. If Phoenix closes out the series Friday there is a strong possibility that some of those players will join the U.S. team in Connecticut. All 17 players who played Thursday night will head up to Connecticut on Friday.

The Americans will play an exhibition game Monday against Canada before heading overseas to play a pre-world tournament in France and one in the Czech Republic. The U.S. will then head to Istanbul for the world championship which begins on Sept. 27.


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