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UConn in the Olympics: Stewart powers Team USA to semifinals

Gabby Williams also hit some crucial free throws to help send France to the semifinals.

The Olympic Games-Tokyo 2020 Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

Behind a game-high 23 points from Breanna Stewart, Team USA took down Australia in the Olympic quarterfinals, 79-55. It was the most convincing win of the tournament so far for the Americans after some shaky performances in the group stage.

“I do think the knockout rounds brings out a certain intensity about you, about a team,” Sue Bird said postgame. “So I think that plays a huge role in it, just understanding this is do or die at this point, win or go home. So I think that helps.”

Bird recorded nine points and five assists while Tina Charles grabbed six rebounds but did not score. Diana Taurasi played 17 minutes after injuring her wrist in the last game and finished with four points, four assists, and five rebounds. Napheesa Collier saw five minutes of action and ended up with two rebounds and a steal.

During pool play, the US started slow and trailed after the first quarter in every game. Against Australia, Team USA fell behind 5-2 before ripping off a 17-0 run to take a commanding lead. Australia never recovered.

“It’s crunch time,” Stewart said postgame. “It’s win or go home and I think we’ve struggled a little bit with how we started in pool play games, and I wanted to make sure I came out aggressive on both ends of the court.”

The US went into halftime with a 21-point advantage and extended the gap to 29 points after three quarters. Though Australia outscored the Americans by five in the final quarter, they never made any real comeback effort.

With the win, Team USA will advance to the semifinals and play Serbia on Friday at 12:40 a.m. EST on NBC.

Highlights

2020 Tokyo Olympics: USA v Australia Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Williams to compete for a medal

Gabby Williams is guaranteed a trip to one of the medal games after France defeated Spain, 67-64. Williams played a key role in securing the victory by hitting three free throws in the final seconds.

With 1:21 remaining, Williams made two free throws to put France up 63-62, and with just 11 seconds to play, she made another to give her team a 3-point lead. Spain couldn’t hit a game-tying shot on the ensuing possession and France held on for the victory.

Williams finished with 11 points, four assists, and three rebounds.

Next, France will take on Japan in the semifinals on Friday at 7:00 a.m. EST.

Looking ahead

There are no events with UConn players on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Both Team USA and France basketball will play again on Friday while Steph Labbé and Canada will go for gold against Sweden at 10 p.m. EST on Thursday.