HAVANA -- They held a team meeting, they got a star player off the sick list, they called a timeout with three minutes left in a blow-out of a game, and when they left the court, there wasn't a smile to be seen.
The United States women's basketball team meant business yesterday.
Less than 24 hours after its 42-game international winning streak was ended, the U.S. women returned to the Sports Coliseum and unloaded on Argentina, 97-40, in the Pan American Games.
The victory didn't erase the United States' 87-84 loss to Brazil, but it gave the team a boost and a 2-1 record in the five-team, round-robin tournament.
"We had to show that we had the killer instinct," said U.S. coach Vivian Stringer.
The U.S. beat up on the smaller Argentines, sending in waves of players and shoving the ball into the foul lane. Katrina McClain led the Americans with 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Teresa Edwards added 18 points. But it was the appearance of center Venus Lacy that solidified the U.S. Lacy, who missed the game against Brazil because a virus left her dehydrated with stomach and back cramps, scored 13 points.
"I wanted my teammates to trust me," Lacy said. "I didn't want to go home with my head down and I wanted to go home with my head up. I wanted to go home with a gold medal."
After spending a night in the infirmary, Lacy is expected to be an important performer as the U.S. prepares for an anticipated medal-round rematch with Brazil.
"I told Venus that I felt like Teresa Edwards is the finest guard in the world, but that Katrina McClain can dominate a game," Stringer said. "I also told Venus that if she and McClain control the front, the game is ours, no matter what the competition. When Katrina and Venus come to play, it means business."
The Americans said they have refocused on winning the gold. After Sunday's loss, Stringer decided to hold a team meeting, thrashing out differences and re-establishing the goal of winning the gold medal.
"I didn't want to press things," she said. "Beyond everything, a lot depends on us recognizing what we have to do. The players indicated they would like to demonstrate their effort with their actions."
"If anyone had any input, they could say what they felt," McClain said. "We knew we had to play a lot better than how we did."