Mater Dei High School alumnus Katie Lou Samuelson scored three points helping the U.S. women’s 3X3 basketball team qualify for the Tokyo Olympics with a 21-13 victory over Spain in a semifinal of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament Sunday in Graz, Austria.
“I think all of us still are just kind of soaking it in, just to actually be part of qualifying America for the Tokyo field, because that’s awesome,” Samuelson said.
The U.S. opened the game by outscoring Spain 6-2. Spain cut the deficit to 7-6. The U.S. responded by scoring six unanswered points for a 13-6 lead and led by at least four for the rest of the game.
The U.S. defeated Belarus, 21-13, in a quarterfinal earlier Sunday, with Samuelson scoring five points.
Samuelson was the only member of the four-player team who was not selected in 2020 for the U.S. women’s 3X3 team that was to attempt to qualify for the Olympics the following month in Bengaluru, India. The tournament and the Olympics were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“One thing I know with USA Basketball is you never know when you’re going to be needed, to get called up or when you’re going to need to step up,” Samuelson said. “I’m grateful I had this opportunity to fill in and I feel like we’ve been playing really well here.”
France, which defeated Japan, 15-14, in the other semifinal, also qualified for the Olympics, as did Japan, which defeated Spain, 20-18, in the third-place game.
The inaugural 3×3 Olympic basketball competition is scheduled for July 24-28. 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.
Samuelson was selected as the national player of the year by Gatorade, USA Sunday, McDonald’s, WBCA and Naismith as a senior at Mater Dei in the 2014-15 season. She was a four-year starter at Connecticut, helping lead the Huskies to the 2016 NCAA championship as a freshman.
Samuelson was chosen by the Chicago Sky with the fourth overall selection in the 2019 WNBA draft. She was traded to the Dallas Wings before the start of the 2020 season, averaging 5.0 points in 20 games. She was traded to the Seattle Storm before the start of the 2021 season.
The U.S. men’s team’s attempt to qualify for the Olympics ended with a 21-16 quarterfinal loss to the Netherlands. The team included Kareem Maddox, a resident of Los Angeles’ Mid-City neighborhood who was a standout at Oak Park High School.
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