US women’s basketball team edges Australia, barges into final
London, England, United Kingdom (4E Sports) – The U.S. women’s basketball team turned up the defensive heat on 6-8 center Liz Cambage in the second half to turn back Australia, 86-73, Thursday and barge into the gold-medal game for the fourth straight Olympics.
Tina Charles led the way with 14 points and 10 rebounds while Diana Taurasi added 14 points and Sue Bird contributed 13 points to give the Americans their 40th straight Olympic win since a semifinal loss in the 1992 Barcelona Games.
Since then, the U.S. women’s team has captured four straight gold medals, including three against Australia. They will go for their fifth gold medal Saturday against France, which defeated Russia, 81-64, in the other semifinal match.
The Americans are 6-1 in Olympic play against the French.
The Americans were punished early by Cambage, who unloaded 19 points in the first half to help the Australians grab a 47-43 cushion.
But they made the necessary adjustments, with Tina Charles and Candace Parker denying Cambage the inside position that made her unstoppable in the first 20 minutes to hold her scoreless in the entire second half.
“It is a great thing that we have another opportunity to win gold,” US guard Sue Bird said. “It’s harder to get there than it is to play the gold medal game.”
The Australians shot 61 percent (20-of-33) from the field in the first half and with Cambage dominating the shaded lane, they led by 39-32, with five minutes left in the second quarter.
Taurasi sparked an 8-1 run with two 3-pointers to open the third quarter that shoved the Americans ahead, 51-48.
The Australians took the lead for one last time, 56-55, late in the third before the Americans put the game away for good.
Guard Lindsay Whalen scored six points in a row and Charles added four in a 26-10 run that put the Americans ahead, 81-66 with 3:25 left in the game while Cambage could do was watch.
“Yeah, they shut me down. They started double-teaming, going after the ball a lot more. It’s hard. They are the elite of the basketball world,” Cambage said after the game.
Australian forward Lauren Jackson, the all-time leading Olympic scorer, also had a hard time against the Americans’ defense, finishing with just 14 points for a total of 550 points in Olympic play.
“In the second half we weren’t able to adjust. They were just able to capitalize on our errors,” Jackson said. “We did our best. We battled. We definitely showed strides but America is absolutely the best team here.”