One of Team USA's key leaders, veteran point guard and UConn alum Sue Bird, missed Thursday's semifinal matchup against France. Bird is currently day-to-day with a knee capsule sprain. While at times it looked as though the team missed their leader at the point, it ultimately didn't matter.
For the second straight game, halftime adjustments proved to be key as Team USA defeated France, 86-67, to advance to the gold medal game on Saturday afternoon. It was just the second time that the United States had been held under 100 points in this tournament.
The U.S. will face Spain, who beat Serbia 68-54 in the other semifinal, on Saturday. The United States has already beaten Spain once in this tournament, comfortably taking care of business, 103-63, in the second game of pool play.
Diana Taurasi led Team USA with 18 points and had five rebounds while Maya Moore added 15 points, seven rebounds, and three assists.
The United States trailed early but used an 8-0 run to forge ahead. France would keep it close the rest of the first quarter, trailing by only four at the end of it.
Over the first five minutes of the second quarter, Team USA built the lead up to 10 points, with the score at 32-22. However France would quickly cut the lead in half with a layup by Isabelle Yacoubou and a three-pointer by Marine Johannes. Taurasi singlehandedly pushed the lead back to nine with a jumper and then a layup.
The French kept playing the U.S. tough, going on a 9-4 run in the last 3:30 of the second quarter to cut the lead to four at halftime.
Just like the quarterfinals win over Japan, Team USA clamped down defensively to start the second half. The tighter defense allowed them to start the third quarter on a 9-2 run and by the end of the third quarter the U.S. outscored France 25-8.
France kept fighting with small runs throughout the fourth quarter. But each time, Team USA would respond back with one of its own and ultimately take the 19-point win.
For the first time in the Olympics, former Husky great Breanna Stewart was held scoreless. She played just three minutes.