By: Jeffrey Newholm
Maya Moore scored 19 points, Diana Taurasi added another five threes and the US women’s team pulled away in the second half to defeat Japan, 110-64, in the Olympic quarterfinals Tuesday afternoon. It was a tale of two halves as Japan fought surprisingly hard for the first 20 minutes, trailing by only two at the 2:00 mark and making the Americans’ lives miserable with seven threes and consistent shooting. The game suddenly turned shortly into the third frame, however, as the Japanese women clearly ran out of energy. The US continued to focus on running a clean offense and the lead ballooned into the 30s in a short period of time. While the final margin was favorable to team USA, there were some minor causes for concern.
The most immediate issue now facing the US is the status of point guard Sue Bird. Bird Bird suffered an apparent knee injury in the first half and didn’t return, but at this point all indications are that she was held out due to an abundance of caution. Personally, I was disappointed with the sub-par play of Brittney Griner, who looked mostly uncomfortable yesterday. With the tournament winding down, it behooves her to make an adjustment in a timely manner. On a positive note, team USA’s 61% three point shooting was again of great value. Consistent three point shooting is often difficult to find in the women’s game, and having multiple players adapt at this skill has proven to be a great boon to team USA. While the first half was tense, I thought it was overall another fine performance by the US women.
With just two games left to win in the tournament, I think team US has a clear path to Gold. Australia was the most threatening challenger to the American powerhouse and thankfully they were defeated yesterday. Japan fought hard, but had no hope of keeping up with the US machine for all 40 minutes. Team USA calmly kept playing well and capitalized brilliantly when Japan lost focus. If the US does the same for he next 80 minutes, I believe gold will be more than a tantalizing promise. It’ll be a guarantee.
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