U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team Blows By China 105-62
After just a few minutes of play in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team’s (5-0) final preliminary round game against China (1-4), it was clear the USA had control and an eventual win. The undefeated USA used a 20-0 run to jump out to a 22-3 lead in the first quarter, and it only improved its advantage from there on its way to a 105-62 victory on Sunday afternoon at Deodoro Youth Arena in Rio de Janeiro.
The USA, which recorded a U.S. Olympic women’s record 40 assists in the victory, finished as Group B’s No. 1 seed and will take on Group A’s No. 4 seed, Japan (3-2), in the quarterfinals on Aug. 16 (time TBD).
“We knew kind of what we wanted to do today, and I think in every single area that we had marked down that we wanted to get accomplished, we got accomplished today,” said USA head coach Geno Auriemma. “When you have 40 assists in a basketball game, and I talked to the team about it, there can’t be anything better in the game of basketball then when you get an assist. You can get rebounds, blocked shots, whatever, all that’s great, you get a bucket, but when you know you made it possible to help one of your teammates get an easy basket, that to me, that’s basketball. You can’t play it any better than we played it in the first half. That was really fun to watch.”
USA post players Tina Charles and Brittney Griner led the way with 18 points each, which helped the USA to record 68 of its points in the paint. Griner added 13 rebounds to finish with a double-double.
After a U.S. field goal, China made a 3-pointer for its only lead of the game, a 3-2 advantage, just 52 seconds into the contest. That’s when the USA launched its 20-0 run, however, and the USA led 22-3 with 2:49 remaining in the first quarter. Charles scored 12 of her points in the first quarter, while the USA recorded 13 assists on 14 field goals to go ahead 32-9. The only non-assisted field goal in the period was a put-back by Charles.
“We started off the game really well on the defensive end, getting stops and running out in transition,” Griner said. “That was a big part of our game today – getting boards, getting deflections and kicking it up the floor for easy baskets.”
China found some success from behind the 3-point line in the second quarter, making four 3s, but that was nowhere near enough fire power. The USA totaled 28 points from seven different scorers and led 60-26 at halftime.
Pushing the tempo for the duration of the game, by halftime the USA had scored 26 of its points off of fast breaks, and it finished the game with 42 points in transition.
As the USA worked through its offense and shared minutes in the second half, American post players Charles, Sylvia Fowles and Griner combined for 10 of the USA’s 18 points in the third quarter, while China score 14 points, and the score was 78-40 headed into the fourth quarter.
The final period saw the USA outscore China 27-22 to record the 105-62 win.
The record-breaking assist came with 4:14 remaining in the game when Lindsay Whalen, who finished with a personal Olympic high six assists, dished to Maya Moore for a 3-pointer, and it was Whalen who pushed the USA into triple digits, 100-53, with a score at 2:35.
Sylvia Fowles added 13 points; Moore distributed a game and personal Olympic high eight assists and had eight rebounds and nine points; and Sue Bird finished with five assists. Playing in her 100th game in a USA Basketball jersey, Seimone Augustus scored 10 points to go with her five assists.
“I think each of us individually want to every game bring out what we are known for, and I think particularly, B.G. (Brittney Griner) and myself were able to do that, including Syl (Sylvia Fowles) on the defensive end and what she’s able to bring in finishing around the basket,” Charles said. “So, I think game by game, you are seeing more players bring out what you know them for.”
While the USA shot 62.2 percent from the field (46-74 FGs) and got 47 points from non-starters, it held China to just 33.8 percent from the field (24-71 FGs) and 30.8 percent from 3-point (8-26 3pt FGs).
Elena Delle Donne did not play after being hit around her right eye during warmups.
Also today in the USA’s Group B, Serbia (1-3) will play Senegal (0-4) at 3:30 p.m. (EDT), while Spain (3-1) will play Canada (3-1) at 4:45 p.m. (EDT) to determine the No. 2 and 3 seeds from Group B. Serbia likely is the fourth seed, assuming they are able to beat winless Senegal.
In addition to four seed Japan, Group A saw Australia (4-0) finish first, France (3-2) second and Turkey (3-2) third.
Quarterfinal winners advance to the semifinals on Aug. 18, and the gold and bronze medal games are on Aug. 20.
The USA’s assistant coaches are Doug Bruno, Cheryl Reeve and Dawn Staley.