USA 99, Brazil 59

United States Wins Bronze at 2006 FIBA World Championship

SAO PAULO, Brazil, Sept. 23 (Ticker) - Coming home without a medal from the Women's World Basketball Championship was unfathomable for the United States. Diana Taurasi did not let it happen.

Taurasi scored 18 of her 28 points in the third quarter to lead Team USA to a 99-59 victory over host Brazil in the bronze medal game on Saturday.

On Thursday night, Team USA (8-1) had its 50-game winning streak in international competition end in stunning fashion with a 75-68 loss to Russia in the semifinals. The Americans had beaten the Russians, 90-80, in group play.

The winning streak in FIBA and Olympic competition dated to a 110-107 loss to Brazil in the semifinals of the 1994 World Championships. The run included championship victories over Russia in the 1998 and 2002 Worlds.

Despite the disappointment of not playing for the gold, the Americans showed plenty of pride on Saturday.

"We knew we had to bounce back," Team USA coach Anne Donovan said. "We knew that not just Brazil would be ready, but we knew the fans would be ready. So our mental preparation and our emotional preparation had to be high.

"I give a lot of credit to the girls. We knew we had to come out and play our best game in order to walk away with the bronze."

After Team USA methodically built a 49-34 halftime lead, Taurasi caught fire with four 3-pointers in the third quarter. The Americans would outscore Brazil, 34-11, in the quarter and Donovan sat her starters throughout the fourth.

Taurasi played just 16 minutes and made 11-of-15 shots, including 6-of-7 from 3-point range.

"Individually, you could talk about it being a very good night," Taurasi said. "But as a team we learned a lot about ourselves. We came off a tough loss to Russia, who played a great game, hats off to them they deserved it.

"This morning we knew it was going to be a very difficult game against a wonderful Brazilian team. Our focus was the highest it's been all tournament, which is a testament to the coaches for getting us prepared."

Tina Thompson scored 15 points and Tamika Catchings added 11 and nine rebounds for Team USA, which shot 56 percent (39-of-70) from the field, including 11-of-20 from 3-point range.

Janeth Arcain of the Houston Comets led Brazil with 16 points. Brazil shot just 37 percent (22-of-59) from the field, including 4-of-20 from the arc.

Alessandra Olivera, who averaged 13.8 points and 8.6 rebounds in Brazil's first eight games, wore a sling on her left arm and watched from the bench.

Team USA was on fire from the start, hitting 5-of-6 from 3-point range to open a 25-16 lead with 3:16 left in the first quarter. Katie Smith ended the quarter with another 3-pointer to increase the advantage to 31-21. Taurasi finished with 10 points in the period.

A steal and a pair of free throws by Catchings with 3:13 left in the second quarter ignited a 7-2 run which gave Team USA a 49-34 halftime lead.

The Americans then opened the third quarter with a 13-5 spurt as Taurasi hit two shots from the arc. The All-Star guard of the Phoenix Mercury outscored Brazil by herself, 11-2, in just under a two-minute span later in the quarter to help the U.S. open an 83-45 lead.

"We played the way we wanted to play and 'D' (Taurasi) was just ridiculous in the second half and opened it up for us," Team USA guard Sue Bird said.

On Friday, the Czech Republic (5-4) captured seventh place with a 57-49 victory over Spain (4-5) in Ibirapuera. Hana Machova scored 17 points to lead the Czechs.

In the fifth-place game, France (5-4) built a big lead and held on for a 79-73 victory over Lithuania (4-5).
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