London, England, United Kingdom (4E Sports) – Diana Taurasi scored 18 points, including four three-pointers, and the Americans hustled and defended their way to an 88-61 victory over the Czech Republic for their fourth win in the women’s basketball event at London Olympics.
The Americans (4-0) made up for poor 38.8 percent shooting (35-of-90 from the field) by outmuscling the Czechs in rebounds, 62-39, including 27 offensive boards which they turned to 24 second-chance points.
The US team’s suffocating defense also limited the Czechs to an even poorer shooting clip of 35.7 percent and a dismal 28.6 percent from 3-point distance (6-of-21).
“I thought we did a great job defending the three the entire second half. Offense isn’t going to be a problem for our team. It certainly wasn’t tonight; we’re scoring enough points,” said head coach Geno Auriemma.
Tina Charles added 16 points, including 12 points in the first half, to go with a game-high 15 rebounds, Maya Moore added 14 points and eight rebounds, Tamika Catchings finished with 10 points while Sue Bird finished with nine assists.
“On a team like this, scoring is probably the least of anyone’s concern because we have so many great scorers,” Taurasi said. “You really have to do a lot on the other side of the basketball, so I’ve been more trying to do those things and then today I got some good looks. Sue found me a couple of times and they went in.”
The Americans trailed by 10-0 before bouncing back with a 13-2 run sparked by six points from Charles but the Czechs stormed ahead once again 26-25 with four three-pointers.
In the second quarter, the lead changed hands three times before the USA finally took control of the game with a 17-6 run to close the half leading by 48-38.
Taurasi kicked off the second half with a 3-pointer and then sank another at 6:10 to put the USA ahead by 58-40.
After two points from Czech Republic, the USA compiled its largest run of the game, a 10-0 spurt that began and ended with points from Charles off of an assist from Moore.
With the game’s outcome firmly in hand, the USA outscored its European opponent 18-14 in the final period to clinch the win.
“I think we feel good,” Candace Parker said. “Obviously we’re getting our team chemistry down and we’re playing well.”
The USA will wrap up preliminary round play against China Sunday. The quarterfinals take place on Aug. 7, semifinals on Aug. 9 and the gold medal game on Aug. 11.