On Sunday afternoon against Senegal, Diana Taurasi tied her own USA Basketball Women’s Olympic record for three-pointers made in a game, knocking down five.
On Monday, Taurasi’s assault on the record books continued, as she moved into second place all-time in total Olympic points for the U.S. Women’s National Team.
Coming into these games, she was in fifth place, 20 points behind Sheryl Swoopes for second place. After knocking down four triples in the first quarter of the first game against Senegal, it looked like Taurasi might take care of business right then and there. She ended up finishing with 15 points, however, as the U.S. cruised to a 121-56 win.
Her strong opening performance left Taurasi needing just six points in the Americans’ affair against Spain to take second place on the scoring list, and she had no trouble with that task.
She got the U.S. started with a jumper for the first points of the game, then sunk a triple later in the frame to tie Swoopes. With 5:47 left in the second quarter, Taurasi ripped the net with another three-ball, putting her all alone in second place.
When the final buzzer sounded, Taurasi had a team-best 13 points, giving her 28 for the 2016 Games so far and 282 for her Olympic career, seven more than Swoopes’ 274.
As for the number one spot? That’s going to be a bit harder to reach. Lisa Leslie sits all alone on her throne, high above the rest of the field, with 488 career Olympic points.
Should the U.S. make a medal game, as they are expected to do, they would have six games remaining. Taurasi, 206 points behind Leslie, would need to average over 34 points in a tournament in which the most points any U.S. player has scored in one game is 15 (Taurasi, Breanna Stewart and Sylvia Fowles against Senegal).
That kind of scoring output from one player always seemed unlikely given the plethora of offensive stars on the roster, and was confirmed by Taurasi herself after the game.
“When you play on this team, if you think you’re going to get 20 shots, you’re out of your mind,” Taurasi said. “So you have to be efficient, you have to take good shots, you have to make sure you share the ball. And that’s something that coach Auriemma preaches every day.”
That kind of teamwork, in addition to Taurasi’s top-notch play, is what has — and will continue to — make the U.S. so difficult to beat in Rio.