The USA Women's Olympic Basketball team cruised through pool play, winning their five games by an average margin of 45 points. But their opponent tonight was eager to prove that it wasn't phased by that dominance.
Japan went to the half trailing by 10 points only to see Team USA outscore them in the second half, 54-18, to take a 110-64 win in the quarterfinals on Tuesday night. Team USA will take on the winner of the France vs. Canada game that will get started at 9:15 p.m.
Former UConn Huskies Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi led the way for their college and national team head coach Geno Auriemma with 19 points each.
The two teams started out the 1st quarter exchanging baskets as Moore had 10 early points to put the United States out front 14-12. Yuka Mamiya tied it up for Japan at 14 in the opening quarter. The Japanese would keep it close for a few minutes in the middle part of the quarter before the U.S. extended its lead to seven by the end of the 1st quarter.
Mika Kurihara got Japan going right out of the gates in the 2nd quarter with a three-pointer. However, Angel McCaughtry gave the United States a 12-point lead at 40-28 with 7:30 to go in the half, forcing Japan to take a timeout.
The Japanese didn't sit back. They got themselves back into the game with an 8-0 run to cut the lead to two points at 46-44. That's where the luck for Japan would run out, however, as the United States closed out the second quarter on a 10-2 run to take a 10-point lead into halftime and never looked back.
A strong third quarter saw Team USA shoot 11-of-13 in the quarter and the tightening up of the defense (another Auriemma half-time adjustment, I'm sure), helped build the lead to 22 points by the end of third quarter. Team USA would only allow Japan to score five points in the fourth quarter, and just 18 for the second half.
Tina Charles had a nice game for the United States with four points, six rebounds, and five assists. Former UConn star Breanna Stewart had just two points with three rebounds but did have three blocked shots.
Sue Bird suffered an knee injury in the first half and didn't return to the game. Her status for the semifinals is not yet known.