First, she emerged as an exciting, go-to basketball player for the Louisville Cardinals. Then, as a sophomore, Angel McCoughtry led U of L to its finest season (27-8) by averaging 21.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Now, the Big East Player of the Year has emerged as a new force on the international scene. In recent days, McCoughtry led the United States team in scoring (12.6 per game) in its five consecutive victories in the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro. (Left, McCoughtry is pictured along with U of L quarterback Brian Brohm on the cover of Louisville Magazine. They were named Top Female and Top Male athlete, respectively, in the publication’s Best of Louisville poll.)
On Tuesday, McCoughtry scored 17 points for the United States in its gold medal-winning victory over host Brazil. The U.S. won 79-66, posting its first Pam Am win in women’s basketball since 1987. Rutgers’ star Matee Atavon, another Big East performer, led the Americans with 21 points in the decisive game. Brazil led the contest most of the first half, but nine points and five rebounds by McCoughtry in the second quarter narrowed the Americans’ deficit to just one point at halftime. In the fourth quarter, sparked by a McCoughtry three-pointer, the U.S. went on a 30-13 run to claim the Pam Am title.“We played together and kept our composure. That gave us the win,” McCoughtry told the Associated Press.Perhaps the only person smiling more about Angel’s success than her family is new U of L head coach Jeff Walz, who took over for departed Tom Collen, now the head coach at Arkansas.“I’ve watched Angel develop as a player since her days in high school,” Walz, a former assistant at Maryland, said recently. “She had a record-setting season last year, and she has continued to work hard to become an exceptional player. This Pan Am experience will be a big plus for her and for our team.”McCoughtry, a native of Baltimore, Md., led the United States in scoring with 21 points on Monday as the Americans topped Canada, 75-59, in the semifinals of the Pan Am Games.In the clash with Canada, the U.S. trailed after the first quarter. But McCoughtry started the second period and scored 10 consecutive points to lead a 14-3 run by the Americans that gave them a 23-20 advantage. Thanks in part to seven more second-quarter points by McCoughtry, the U.S. led 45-28 at halftime and controlled the game the rest of the way. McCoughtry finished the contest shooting 67 percent from the field (100 percent from behind the arc). She also contributed seven rebounds, one block and one steal in just 20 minutes of action.Previously, McCoughtry scored 13 points in America’s 78-63 win over Cuba, and added five rebounds and two steals. In an 85-54 route of Argentina, the Cardinal star played just 10 minutes but provided four rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block.The American team of 12 players, chosen from an original group of 45 candidates, was coached by three-time Olympian and Temple University head coach Dawn Staley, who selected McCoughtry from a group of 15 finalists for the squad.Overall, for Louisville last year, McCoughtry was named a WBCA/Kodak All-American. She also earned second-team Associate Press All-America honors and was named an All-American by the Basketball Times. Sports Page Magazine.com and Full Court Press. She became just the third play in U of L history to score 1,00 career points in just two seasons. She set a new single-season scoring record with 754 points last year.
NOTE: Steiner is published daily on Louisville.com. He appears weekly on the Red & Blue Review, a statewide sports TV show (Insight Ch.2). He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com