Diana Taurasi Leads U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team Past Serbia 110-84
Diana Taurasi scored 25 points, had six assists and set U.S. Olympic women’s records for 3-pointers made (6) and attempted (10) to help the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Basketball Team (3-0) defeat Serbia (0-3) 110-84 on Wednesday afternoon at Deodoro Youth Arena in Rio de Janeiro.
As a team, the USA set a free throw percentage record with its 26-of-26 performance from the charity stripe and had 30 assists on 38 field goals.
The USA’s win saw five players reach double-digit scoring, all 12 players score, and it was the first time the U.S. women had scored 100 points three games in a row in Olympic play.
“A lot of it is that it’s hard for other teams right now to go to their bench,” said USA head coach Geno Auriemma. “So when they have to, we start picking up more full court, so we made them go up and down the floor more than maybe they would want to. So, our second group and most other teams’ second group allows us to push the advantage, to push the deficit even more. It’s just that we’re fortunate that we’ve got that many really good players. You’ve got Elena Delle Donne and Breanna Stewart coming off the bench. It’s a luxury that no other team has in this tournament.”
The USA started the game with Maya Moore scoring off of the jump ball and led 11-2 after another fastbreak bucket from Moore with 7:18 on the clock. With 3-pointers from four different players, Serbia fought back to tie the game at 16-all and then took a 17-16 lead with a free throw at 3:41. After a score from Sylvia Fowles, however, Taurasi three of her four first-quarter 3s to help the USA go ahead 27-18 at 1:34. Each team scored twice more to make it 31-21 after the first period.
Taurasi scored 16 of her 25 points in the opening quarter.
“When you do get going and you got everyone kind of helping you, it makes things a little bit easier,” Taurasi said.
“There are still things we have to get better at. When you play against a team like Serbia, the European champions, they make you work. They make you look ugly sometimes. But overall we did a pretty job of keeping our composure and doing the things we want to do.”
Serbia came within six points in the second quarter, 36-30, after 2:33 of play, but the USA buckled down from there and allowed just four more points while racing to 20 of its own, including 3s from Moore and Taurasi and the final seven points from Tina Charles, and the Americans had a comfortable 56-34 lead at halftime.
The U.S. defense held Serbia to just 3-of-17 from the field (.176) in the second quarter, while at the midway point, the USA was 57.6 percent from the field (19-33 FGs), 53.8 percent from 3-point (7-13 3-pt FGs) and a perfect 11-of-11 from the free throw line.
Taurasi sank her record-setting 3 just 1:20 into the second half to bring the score to 59-39 in the USA’s advantage.
Similar to the second quarter, Serbia rallied to trim the deficit, this time to 15 points, and made a 3-pointer with 4:43 on the clock to make it 66-51. Again the USA responded. The USA closed the third by outscoring Serbia 18-10, and the American lead reached 23 points headed into the fourth quarter, 84-61.
All 12 players scored when Tamika Catchings made a jump shot at 6:02 in the fourth quarter, and two free throws by Breanna Stewart at the 4:01 mark pushed the USA into triple digits – 100-77.
The biggest cheers of the night came when Angel McCoughtry, who totaled 13 points, made a 360-layup on a break away with 1:02 left in the game.
Stewart had 17 points; Charles added 15 points and eight rebounds; Moore finished with 10 points and six rebounds; and Seimone Augustus had five assists.
Fifty-one of the USA’s points came off of the bench, 35 were scored in transition and the USA finished with a 46-27 rebounding advantage.
“It’s a great test, because we know Serbia is a good team” McCoughtry said. “They can contend for a lot. It’s a good test for us, because they had us in the beginning. I think the thing we do, we wear teams down with our bench. We have a good bench that can come in and there’s no let down. So, a lot of teams don’t have that and that’s how we kind of wear teams down.”
Also today in the USA’s Group B, Spain (2-1) won against China (1-2) 89-68, while Senegal (0-2) faces Canada (2-0) at 4:45 p.m. (EDT).
The U.S. women continue preliminary round play against Canada at 2:30 p.m. (EDT) on Aug. 12 and a final preliminary round game against China at 11:15 a.m. (EDT) on Aug. 14.
The top four finishing teams from each preliminary round group advance to the quarterfinals on Aug. 16.
The semifinals will be played on Aug. 18, and the finals are on Aug. 20.
The USA’s assistant coaches are Doug Bruno, Cheryl Reeve and Dawn Staley.