BREAKING NEWS

USA WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM OVERCOMES SLOW START, ROLLS PAST JAPAN IN RIO

Photo Source: sbnation

There was suspense for a fleeting few minutes Tuesday, which is saying something when you’re talking about the U.S. women’s Olympic basketball team.

This quarterfinal game against Japan, unlike every other one of the Americans’ challenges here, was like watching your favorite movie only to somehow stumble on a new plot twist.

Up by just two points late in the second quarter, this from the team that entered play having won its first five games by an average of 40.8 points? Unheard of. A  halftime speech from coach Geno Auriemma, who chided small forward Angel McCoughtry about her porous defense after Japan’s Miki Kurihara hit four circus threes that reminded him of Stephen Curry? Just flat out weird.

Twenty minutes later, after adjustments were made and Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore (19 points apiece) caught fire, their one-sided world was back to normal: Team USA 110, Japan 64 at Carioca Arena.

The dominance continues, with a semifinal game against either France or Canada on Thursday.

“(At halftime) we just said, ‘Look, this is how we’re going to play defense, this is where we’re going to go with the ball, this is how we’re going to attack them, ok? We’re going to take away this, this and that, and then let’s run with it,” Auriemma said. “They did the rest. They were unbelievable in the second half. … In the last 17 minutes of the game, it was pretty amazing. That was a pretty amazing brand of basketball, against a really, really good team.”

Taurasi, who had a three-pointer during an 8-0 run to end the first half with Team USA up 56-46, helped turn it all around.

“I just let it all hang out,” Taurasi said. “I just knew that if we were going to go, we were going to let it all hang out. … I’m just proud of this team. You look at the score, and you think it was an easy game. But Japan (which entered 3-2 in pool play) is one of the toughest teams.”

The winning streak – now 47 in the Olympics as they pursue a sixth consecutive gold medal – was safe by the fourth quarter. This team still hasn’t won a game by single digits since a four-point game against Russia in the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Even still, this was a game. Until Auriemma’s message apparently hit home at the intermission.

“He said that my (expletive) better get down and guard somebody and don’t let nobody else beat me to the basket,” said McCoughtry, who added 13 points and helped hold Kurihara scoreless in the second half. “He made (the comment) in a funny, kind of sarcastic way.”

Sure, she could call it funny – because they won.

“Wooh,” McCoughtry said about the second-half surge. “We needed it, though. The great thing about our team is that people like Diana and Sue (Bird), they don’t panic. They just know how to play through it, and we follow their lead.”

Now to wait and see if there’s reason to panic as it relates to Bird.

The 35-year-old point guard was removed from the action in the second quarter when she felt something disconcerting in her right knee. The decision to pull her from play was characterized by Auriemma as precautionary, but more should be known when she is reevaluated Wednesday morning. Bird – one of three Team USA players attempting to win a record-tying fourth gold medal (with Taurasi and Tamika Catchings) – did not speak to reporters in the mixed zone afterward.

About bigmike211995 (38 Articles)
21 year-old college student who loves sports and video games. Ready to make a name for myself and want to be an extremely popular sports writer.

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