Poway resident Kelsey Plum was the second-leading scorer for the U.S. in both wins as it her team opened play in the inaugural Olympic women’s 3X3 basketball tournament Saturday.
Plum scored six in a 17-10 victory over France at Aomi Urban Sports Park in Tokyo. She also scored six in the U.S.’s 21-9 victory over Mongolia later Saturday.
“It was kind of good to get the jitters out of the way,” Plum said. “The tournament will just get better. You are in your first game on a worldwide stage, but once we started and the shots started falling, we were just able to be ourselves.”
Plum gave the U.S. the lead for good one minute, 34 seconds into the 10-minute game with the first of her two 2-point baskets. France cut the led to 9-8 on Mamignan Toure’s 2-point basket with 4:17 to play.
Plum ended a 5-0 U.S. run with a basket that gave the U.S. a 14-8 lead with 2:58 remaining.
First lady Jill Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron attended the first game.
Plum called it “an honor” and “an opportunity to play in front of the first lady.”
“We are excited to get the win for her,” Plum said. “We asked her to come back, so hopefully she has time for us. I loved it. As soon as we walked out, we saw her in the stands. She waved and she brought all the energy, so we are grateful for that.”
3X3 is played with a 12-second shot clock on a half court. Baskets inside the arc and free throws are worth one point and baskets made from outside the arc are worth two points.
The winner is the first team to score 21 points or the leading team at the end of the 10-minute game clock.
Plum concluded an 11-1 game-opening run against Mongolia with a 2- point basket. American Allisha Gray led all scorers with nine points, making four of five 2- point shots.
The U.S. faces Romania at 1:30 a.m. Sunday on USA Network, and the Russian Olympic Committee at 5:25 a.m. on NBC. The pool round portion of the tournament consists of one game against each of the other seven teams.
The teams with two best records advance to the semifinals while the third through sixth place teams will advance to the quarterfinals.
Plum was initially chosen on Feb. 17, 2020, for the U.S. women’s 3X3 team that was to attempt to qualify for the Olympics the following month in India. The tournament and the Olympics were postponed because of the pandemic.
She tore an Achilles tendon while playing with her WNBA team, the Las Vegas Aces, last June and was sidelined for the rest of the season.
Plum was selected to the all-tournament team for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament from May 26-30 in Austria, helping the U.S. to a 6-0 record. She averages 5.3 points, 2.0 “key assists” and 1.8 rebounds per game.
Plum led La Jolla County Day to the 2012 CIF Division IV state championship. She scored an NCAA-record 3,527 points in her four seasons at Washington, including the single-season record, 1,109, as a senior in the 2016- 17 season.
Plum was the first overall selection in the 2017 WNBA draft by the San Antonio Stars, which moved to Las Vegas in 2018.