USA Basketball 2012: US women defeat Aussies, advance to finals.

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Aug 9, 2012; London, United Kingdom; Samantha Richards of Australia drives down court under pressure from Sue Bird and Angel McCoughtry during the women's semifinal match at the London 2012 Olympic Games (Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports)

 

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FINAL

USA

20

23

22

21

86

Australia 

22

25

12

14

73

Leaders

USA- Tina Charles. 14 Pts, 4 As, 10 Rbd.

Australia – Liz Cambage 19 Pts, 1 As, 7 Rbd.

 

 

 

 

After defeating the Chinese 114-66 and than beating the Canadians in the quarterfinals 98-41, the American’s were really confident as they continued on to their road to victory but they came across a major roadblock. The Australians.

Both women’s teams are very familiar with each other. For the past 3 Olympic games, it’s always been the Opals squaring off against the Americans in the finals. And for the past 3 years it’s been the American’s winning the gold with the Opals winning silver. Today both met in the semifinals, which means the stakes were higher. Whoever won would go to the finals and compete for gold, while the loser will play the loser of the Russia versus France game to compete for the bronze and may go home medal-less.  Also on the line was the American’s 39 winning streak.

The 1st quarter of the game kicks off with Tina Charles getting the bucket securing the first points for team USA. She comes back stealing the inbound pass from the Opals, and makes it 4-0 USA. Right off the bat, there was a little bit of full court pressure by them. Elizabeth Cambage starts the Aussies off by getting the first points for them. USA’s Tamika Catching stroked back getting her own rebound off a miss shot and gets fouled. She completes the 3-point play successfully. The US team had more athleticism especially in the backboard.

 At this point in the game the Aussies were shooting 2 for 4 field goals at the 6:45 mark, while the Americans were shooting 4 for 7 field goals. Maya Moore heats up as she begins shooting 6 for 10 field goals. Lindsey Whalen contributes to the US’s offense as she grabs the steal and feeds it to Candace Parker who makes the bucket and gets fouled. Despite how good USA was doing defensively, it was clear that they were not free flowing. Struggling early.

 At the end of the 1st quarter, the Aussies were up 22-20. The Opals were shooting 9 for 16 field goals at 56%, missed all 2 3-point attempts, were perfect on free throws at 4 for 4, obtained 1 steal with 8 rebounds, and already had 6 turnovers with 8 points for the American’s turnovers. The Americans were doing worse shooting just 10 for 19 field goals at 52%, missed all 2 3-point attempts just as the Aussie did, missed their first free throw attempt, had 3 steals with 8 rebounds, 6 turnovers just like the Aussies, and 8 points from turnovers.

 With the 2nd quarter underway, Lauren Jackson gets the 1st points of the quarter with the easy jumper. Sylvia Fowles retaliates getting the easy bucket for the US. Don’t forget about Cambage though, because she typically averages 14 points a game, and already has 11 points at the beginning of the 2nd quarter. The US was getting better offensively as they were moving the ball well looking for the open player. Weren’t selfish with the ball.

Finally Kristi Harrower gets the 1st 3 –point shot of the game. That seems to haven gotten things going as Samantha Richards drains another 3 bring the lead to 35-32 Australia. The US was struggling bad as they were only shooting 15 of their 30 field goal shots. Australia had taken them out of their game with the US having no transition as well they needed to pick up their defensive intensity.

Jackson contributes to Australia’s score with 6 points. She made 3 of 4 field goal shots at the 5-minute mark. At this point the US squad endured their biggest deficit at 39-34. Bird would however keep things going for the US as she shot a jumper bringing it down to 39-36. The last few shots were the most difficult for Australia. Bird had 10 points shooting 5 for 5 field goal shots. Perfect thus far. Than here comes Maya Moore. Since nothing was happening inside the paint, she goes outside the arch gets the first 3-pointer for the U.S. Still, the US was looking frustrated. They need to stay together and work together if they wanted to win. Cambage was having the game of her life as she had 19 points thus far. Remember, she usually averages 14 so this is something noteworthy.

 Halftime and Australia was leading 47-43. They were definitely poised to pull a big upset in Olympic history. Australia was shooting 20 of 33 field goals at 60%, 2 for 5 3-pointers at 40%, 5 of 7 free throws at 71%, obtained 2 steals with 18 rebounds, had 10 turnovers and 10 points for the U.S.’s turnovers. The American’s were shooting 18 for 41 field goals at 43%, 1 of 5 3-point attempts at 66%, 6 of 9 free throws, had 4 steals with 19 rebounds, 7 turnovers and 8 points from turnovers.

 Onto the 3rd quarter and here comes Diana Taurasi with a big 3 to start the game. She also gets fouled so she can make it a 4-point game, however she missed the free throw. She’s not done at she hits another 3 at the 7:50 mark with the U.S. having the lead 53-50. The U.S. clearly got their act together as they were showing full court pressure, however Jackson wouldn’t give up as she hits a 3 for Australia bringing the deficit to 54-55. As I predicted before, it’s been a neck and neck game with numerous lead changes.

The US was showing a bit more activity, a bit more offense but still had no solution offensively. They were up 6 points leading 65-59. Tina Charles had 10 points shooting 5 of 9 field goals and that ends the quarter.

 The Opals were shooting 24 of 51 field goals at 47%, 3 for 13 3-pointers at 25%, 8 of 14 free throws at 57%, obtained 3 steals, 32 rebounds, 15 turnovers and 10 points from turnovers. The American’s however were shooting 26 of 59 field goals at 44%, 3 for 9 3-pointers at 33%, 10 for 17 free throws at 58%, 7 steals with 33 rebounds, 10 turnovers and 15 points from turnovers. Turnovers were surely hurting both teams.

Finally we go to the 4th and final quarter. Harrower started things off hitting a long 3. The US stayed in the game but was unable to send that knockout punch to send the Opals away. Cambage gets the ball but Maya Moore steals it from her and gets the easy layup. USA was up 9 now.

Than it was just U.S. ball. The Aussies were tired out. The US had better defense, putting hands in there for steals and blocking the Aussies. Bird comes back and hits a 3. She had a lackluster shooting performance but came up big. The score was 76-64 US at the 4:50 mark. Bird was showing good sportsmanship as helps Jackson from the ground.

The game ends with the US going to the finals, with the Aussies going to the bronze medal match. In the end, the Aussies shot 29 of 67 field goals, 4 of 16 3-pointers, 11 of 18 free throws, 3 steals, 41 rebounds, 20 turnovers and 11 points from turnovers. The Americans shot 32 of 71 field goals at 45%, 4 of 10 3-pointers at 40%, 18 of 28 free throws at 62%, 10 steals, 43 rebounds, 13 turnovers and 21 points from turnovers. This was truly a great game. At the end both team receive standing ovations for their hard work and effort.

On saturday the Australians will play against the Russians for the bronze medal while the American’s will go to the finals and play against French for the gold. The bronze medal game will be at 12:00 P.M. (ET)/11:00 (CT) [5:00 P.M. local) while the gold medal game will follow up at 4:00 P.M. (ET)/3:00 P.M. (CT) [9:00 P.M. local].

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