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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Impressive second half powers U.S. in Olympic semifinals

Former UConn stars Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi had 19 points each as the United States rolled to an 110-64 win over Japan in the Olympic quarterfinals.

The U.S. were only up two on a young, talented Japan team with 1:29 left in the first half. Seimone Augustus had four points in the final 34 seconds of the second quarter to cap an 8-0 run to end the first half.

The U.S. struggled at times defensively in the first half against the up-tempo style utilized by Japan as Japan's 3-point shooting kept it a close game - for a while.

Angel McCoughtry had 13 points, Elena Delle Donne had 11 points while Augustus ended up with 10 points as did Sylvia Fowles and Lindsay Whalen.

"I think it’s just a matter of us wearing teams down," Moore said. "We play at a high level. We try to play at a high level for 40 minutes. It’s not going to happen perfectly. We just tried to do our best to stay with our game plan and be aggressive, and our defense really kick started our offense in the second half where we were able to get a lot of stops in a row and stifling runs that we were trying to make."

Former UConn star Tina Charles had a team-high five assists. Three-time Olympic gold medalist Sue Bird, one of five former Huskies on the team, appeared to jam her knee in the second quarter and did not play in the second half. Doug Feinberg of the Associated Press reported that Bird heard a pop in her right knee and will be reevaluated tomorrow to determine her availability for Thursday's semifinals. Bird has 30 assists and 3 turnovers while running the show for the U.S. team in the tournament. Bird has not made any public statements about her basketball future and if the injury is serious enough to sideline her for the rest of the Olympics and the remainder of the WNBA season (the fact that she was fighting back tears when the camera panned to her on the bench did not bode well), it would be a shame if that was the last basketball she were to play if she decides to join Olympic teammate Tamika Catchings and former UConn teammate Swin Cash in retiring at the end of the WNBA season.

The U.S. will meet France, a 68-63 winner over Canada, in Thursday's semifinal. Serbia upset previously undefeated Australia in the first quarterfinal while a furious finish by Spain highlighted by Anna Cruz's buzzer-beating shot lifted Spain past Turkey to set up a semifinal against Serbia.

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