Can they be stopped? US to face Spain for women's Olympic Games basketball gold

The five-time defending champions beat France 86-67 to stretch their Olympic win streak to 48 games since losing in the semi-final in 1992

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 August, 2016, 12:41pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 August, 2016, 4:13pm

Five-time defending champions the United States advanced to the Olympic Games women’s basketball final on Thursday by defeating France 86-67 to set-up a gold medal showdown on Saturday with Spain.

The Americans, last beaten at the Olympics in a 1992 semi-final, improved to 88-1 over the past 20 years in the Olympics and World Championships and stretched their Games win streak to 48 games.

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Diana Taurasi scored 18 points, Maya Moore added 15 and Sylvia Fowles added 12 points and nine rebounds for the Americans, while Isabelle Yacoubou led France with 14 points.

Spain secured a first-ever Olympic women’s basketball medal by downing European champion Serbia 68-54 in the other semi-final, Alba Torrens and Astou Ndour each scoring a team high 14 points.

“Being in the Olympics is amazing and to win a medal, it’s a dream,” said Torrens, the top Olympic scorer among semi-finalists.

“We worked really hard to get to this moment. Today, it paid off.”

US women are 9-0 in world and Olympic play against Spain, including a 103-63 rout in the Rio de Janeiro group stage.

Despite the defeat, Serbia can capture their first women’s basketball medal by defeating France in Saturday’s bronze medal match-up.

It will be a repeat of last year’s European championship final that Serbia won 76-68, which was their first win in four tries against France.

“We’ve got to put this game out of our minds,” US-born Serbian forward Danielle Page said.

“We still have a chance to do something special and make history for Serbia. We need to focus on the opportunity we have rather than the opportunity we lost.”

Spain, runner-up to the US in the 2014 World Championships and third in last year’s European tournament, improved to 6-1 in Rio and will take home silver even without a shock upset of the Americans.

“We didn’t talk about medals before we came,” Torrens said.

“We knew we would have to fight every game the difficult way. We fought. We worked. At the end, we got what we wanted.”

US forward Angel McCoughtry scored seven points in a 13-5 second-quarter run to put the Americans ahead 32-22, but France answered with a 14-8 spurt to close the first half, Marine Johannes scoring six points as her side kept within 40-36 at half-time.

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Not since the 2004 Olympic semi-finals had an Olympic foe finished within 13 points of the Americans and it was not to happen this night either.

The US women opened the third quarter with a 9-2 run and ran off an 11-0 spurt late in the period, aided by three-point plays from Sylvia Fowles and Elena Delle Donne, to seize a 65-44 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Serbia, the only quarter-finalist with a losing record, had upset Australia 73-71 to reach the semi-finals, sending the Opals home empty handed after medals in five consecutive Olympics.

Spain led 33-28 at half-time and began the third quarter with a 13-2 run for a 46-30 advantage. Silvia Dominguez’s five points closed the stretch that put her side comfortably ahead to the end.

“We made mistakes, missed some shots, but no one relaxed on defence or rebounding and that was the key to victory,” Torrens said.

Sasa Cado and Sonja Petrovic each scored 12 points to lead Serbia.

“Spain are obviously a talented team. They outworked us,” Page said. “We had a chance to do something special. It’s a shame. The will was there. The execution wasn’t.”