USA Basketball: U.S. to Play for Gold
The mantra for Team USA has always been "defense and depth," but perhaps neither have been more significant than in today's semifinal game against Australia.
It certainly wasn't easy, but after an 86-73 victory (their 40th straight Olympic win), the U.S. will play for an unprecedented fifth consecutive gold medal against the winner of France vs. Russia.
In the first half, Australia's Liz Cambage absolutely dominated the paint scoring 19 points and grabbing five rebounds. The U.S. really had no answer for her as she would routinely establish her position down low and enforce her will on the glass.
That would all change in the second half.
"I took it personal," said Tina Charles on stopping Cambage.
The third quarter started significantly different for the Americans as they seemed to find their intensity on the defensive end as well as their touch offensively. Once again, the U.S.'s bench stepped up with Lindsay Whalen and Angel McCoughtry impacting the game with energy and points and key times. Team USA went on a 10-3 run to end the third quarter up 65-59 (Australia had just 12 points in the period after scoring 22 and 25 in the first and second quarters respectively).
The U.S. finally started to pull away in the fourth quarter due to better ball movement and rhythm on the offensive end of the floor. Most importantly, however, they held Cambage scoreless after the break and forced Australia into 26 percent shooting in the third and fourth quarters. They also outscored Australia 43-26 in the second half.
Give a lot of credit to the U.S.'s bench -- Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus, Angel McCoughtry and Asjha Jones really stepped up to give the U.S. a much-needed boost. Whalen had a stretch in the third quarter where she scored six-straight points to put the U.S. up by five, and they never looked back.
With Diana Taurasi in foul trouble for most of the game, Sue Bird increased her scoring output with 13 points on 6-8 shooting. Tina Charles finished with 14 points (how about her defense on Cambage in the second half?) while Catchings tallied eight boards. Taurasi still scored a team-high 14 points in 28 minutes of play.Notes
- Overall in Olympic play the U.S. women are now 57-3 since women's basketball was added to the Olympic slate in 1976.
- The U.S. will face the winner of the Russia-France semifinal in the gold medal game on Saturday as the USA seeks to win its fifth straight gold medal. Australia will face the loser of Russia-France in the bronze medal game, also to be played on Saturday.
- Diana Taurasi now has 245 career Olympic points which is good for fifth all-time in USA Women's Basketball (Lisa Leslie is first with 488).
- To see updated game schedules and listings, visit www.NBCOlympics.com.