USA Rolls Past Czechs 88-61
LONDON (AP) – Rested and refreshed, the U.S. women continue to dominate the Olympic basketball tournament.
Diana Taurasi scored 18 points and Tina Charles had a double-double to lead the Americans to an 88-61 win against the Czech Republic on Friday.
The Americans (4-0) have won 37 consecutive games in the Olympics, including four gold medals in a row. The USA started slow but looked fresh after its first day off since getting together July 14 to start training for the London Games.
The Americans had rolled through their first three opponents, winning by 36 points a game, and continued the onslaught against the Czechs (1-3), who will need to win their final game Sunday to possibly advance to the quarterfinals.
The Czechs jumped out to a quick lead, scoring the first 10 points of the game in two minutes. It was the Americans' biggest deficit in the Olympics since they trailed the Czechs 13-2 in the opener of the 2008 Beijing Games. The USA went on to win that game by 40 points.
"We had a little bit of a tough time getting shots to go in, and the Czech Republic team did a great job of hitting their threes," U.S. forward Maya Moore said of the Americans' slow start. "We just try to stay agressive. It's about when the other team hits you, you got to get back up and figure out a way to overcome it. And that's what we did."
The Czech Republic also played the USA tight for a half in the gold medal game in the 2010 World Championships, trailing by five at the break. The USA won that contest by 20.
The Czechs led 26-24 after the first quarter after hitting six of their first 10 three-point attempts. They didn't hit another three-point shot the rest of the game, missing their final 11 attempts.
While the Czechs went cold, the Americans heated up behind Charles — who had 16 points and 14 rebounds — and Tamika Catchings.
Trailing 30-26, the Americans scored 22 of the next 28 points to go up 48-36 with 2:18 left in the half. Catchings and Charles each had six points during the burst. Catchings' layup off a full-court pass from Moore gave the USA a 31-30 lead. After a Czech basket, Charles scored six in a row and the USA never trailed again.
The Americans led 48-38 at halftime and put the game away with a 20-3 run to start the second half. Taurasi hit two three-pointers during the spurt.
The Czechs couldn't get within 20 points of the USA the rest of the way.
"Throughout the whole game, I think our defensive intensity picked up," Catchings said. "The third quarter was probably one of the best third quarters we've had since we've been playing together. Now we've just got to get it going in the first half, start the game off that way."
Michaela Zrustova scored 15 points to lead the Czech Republic.
Sylvia Fowles sat out her third consecutive game to rest a sore left foot. She did participate in pregame warmups for the first time.
Even without their 6-5 center, the Americans controlled the boards, outrebounding the Czechs 61-40, including 27 on the offensive end.
While the USA has already clinched a spot in the quarterfinals, the Czechs (1-2) are trying to advance.
They made a surprising run to the silver medal in the worlds, knocking off defending champion Australia in the quarterfinals before losing to the USA in the title game. The Czech Republic was definitely buoyed in that tournament by its home crowd, which included President Vaclav Klaus for the championship game.
The Americans will close out pool play Sunday against China, which was routed by Turkey 82-55.
Also Friday, Australia's Liz Cambage had the play of the day — maybe of the Olympic women's basketball tournament — when she dunked in the Aussies' 70-66 win against Russia. Canada advanced to the quarterfinals with a 79-73 victory vs. Brazil. Croatia routed Angola 75-56; and France edged Britain 80-77 in overtime.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press