Britney Griner leads USA in gold medal game with 79-59 win over Serbia
SAITAMA, Japan (AP) – Brittney Griner had 15 points and 12 rebounds to help the United States beat Serbia 79-59 on Friday to advance to the Olympic gold medal game.
The Americans are now one away from a seventh straight gold medal that would match the American men’s team that won seven Olympic titles in a row from 1936 to 1968.
“This is exactly where we want to be,” said Breanna Stewart, who has 12 points and 10 rebounds. “It’s all on the line. We’re going to do what we can to make sure we come home with a gold medal.
It would also give Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi five gold medals – the most ever won by a basketball player at the Olympics. The Americans will face Japan or France on Sunday.
The United States was scared when Taurasi, grimacing and appearing to rub his left hip after the collision, left the game midway through the third quarter. US coach Ed Ryan was speaking with Taurasi when she went to the bench and she did not return. Taurasi missed all three shows in Las Vegas with a hip pointer, but appeared to move without any issues during the timeouts.
“Yeah, I’ve been fighting this trendy thing for a little while, so it’s just a little boring,” Taurasi said. “It’s good.”
The United States, which beat both France and Japan in pools, have won 54 consecutive Olympic games, now reaching the semi-finals of the 1992 Games in Barcelona.
54 consecutive Olympic victories
Just one more missing for a historic seventh straight gold
– American basketball (@usabasketball) August 6, 2021
The Americans got off to another strong start for a second straight game. Trailing 4-3, they drove a 20-4 run to gain control with a berth in the gold medal game on the line. Griner had four points on one possession. She made two free throws after a foul turned into an unsportsmanlike foul, then scored on a superb pass from Breanna Stewart and the Americans led 25-12 after one.
Neither team was able to really do much during the opening minutes of the second quarter, as there were more misses and turnovers than points. Serbia reduced the deficit to nine points behind Yvonne Anderson, who played for Texas and became a Serbian citizen last year to compete in the Olympics. She finished with 15 points, a high for the team.
The United States scored the next nine points, a series started with A’ja Wilson’s three-point play and led 41-23 at halftime. The lead climbed to 23 points in the third quarter before Serbian reserves started to push and cut the deficit to 14 at the end of the period. The Americans scored the last five points to put the game on the sidelines.
Serbia rested their starters for most of the second half with the bronze medal game around 24 hours. The country won bronze at the Rio 2016 Games.
“When you have one last chance for a medal, you will definitely want it most, who will be hungry the most,” said Serbia coach Marina Maljkovic.
Serbia only got a chance to warm up 25 minutes before the game as traffic delayed the team’s arrival and the NBC Spydercam hovering over the pitch had a cable break about 40 minutes before the tip.
“It was definitely premature to have these issues,” Anderson said. “What can you do? We’re an hour’s drive away and we’re in traffic. We tried to get out and there were some camera issues. In the end, you have to take what you get. We have already faced an uphill battle.
Serbia only shot 30% from the field, including missing 15 of their 19 attempts by 3 points.