OLYMPIC UPDATE: USA Women's Basketball Cruises To 104-60 Quarterfinal Win Over South Korea

August 19, 2008
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Aug. 19, 2008

Courtsey of USA Basketball

Led by 26 points and 14 rebounds from Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), the 2008 U.S. Women's Olympic Team (6-0) used its size and a monster 26-9 second quarter to wear down South Korea early and roll to a 104-60 quarterfinals win and a berth into the Olympic semifinals on Tuesday night at Wukesong Arena in Beijing, China.

The U.S. victory, coupled with Russia's 84-65 win over Spain in the day's late game, set the stage for a USA versus Russia (5-1) rematch of the 2006 FIBA World Championship semifinal game, a game won by Russia 75-68. The game is scheduled to be played Thursday at 8 p.m. (8 a.m. EDT on MSNBC). China (5-1) will meet Australia in the other semifinal match up at 10:15 p.m. The winners of the semifinal games will advance to Saturday's gold medal game (10:00 p.m.), while the losers will square off in the bronze medal game (7:30 p.m.).

Everybody scored for the USA in the win over South Korea, including 12 points from Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury); 11 points from both Kara Lawson (Sacramento Monarchs) and Cappie Pondexter (Phoenix Mercury); and 10 points from Lisa Leslie (Los Angeles Sparks).

"(South Korea) showed in the first quarter what they are capable of, and I thought we responded. (In the) second and third quarter defensively, in particular, I thought we did a great job," said USA head coach Anne Donovan ('83). "Once again, I think our depth is key to our team and to our success. We just can keep putting people on the floor and virtually have no letup at all. So, I'm really pleased. We're really excited to get into the semifinals."

The USA shot 56.6 percent from the field (43-76 FGs), and relied on its inside superiority to score 66 points in the paint and outrebound South Korea 50-24 on its way to 22 second-chance points.

Down 4-2, Leslie converted on a Taurasi assist to kick-off a 6-0 run that brought the score to 8-4 in the USA's favor when South Korea called its first timeout with 6:23 on the clock. The ensuing 3:37 featured six lead changes, and at the end of the first quarter the American women led 25-21.

The USA opened the second period with a 3-pointer from Lawson that brought the score to 28-21 just 33 seconds into the stanza, and the game never again was close.

The U.S. defense limited South Korea to just three made baskets and a total of nine points in the second period as its offense raced to 23 more points, and the U.S. advantage ballooned to 21 points, 51-30, at halftime.

Fowles tallied nine of her 26 points in the third quarter as the U.S. offense once again poured in 26 points and its defense held Korea to just nine, this time on only four made baskets.

With the game's outcome decided and the Americans on cruise-control, the USA outscored South Korea 27-21 in the fourth period to bring the final score to its 104-60 tally.

"I know maybe only half the team was there (when we lost in the World Championship), but that's enough," said Sue Bird (Seattle Storm). "Everybody else probably watched it on TV. We've already watched film on that game a little, that one game we lost, but I think we're a much better team now. Sometimes losses turn out to be the biggest win in a lot of ways because you learn more from them at times, and they can really motivate you."

The USA also faced Russia in the 2004 Olympic semifinals, earning a 66-62 win. Most recently on Aug. 4, the USA recorded a 93-58 win at the 2008 FIBA Diamond Ball Tournament in Haining, China.

"For us, Russia is the team that beat us in the World Championship so there is great motivation," Donovan said. "In Haining, which was the warm up tournament, we played Russia. It was Becky Hammon's first day with that team in a game situation, so I know they're a lot better than they were. But, we've got confidence against that team. I think we match up well with Russia."

China earned its semifinal berth with a 77-62 win over Belarus (2-4); while Australia (6-0) advanced after recording a 79-46 blowout of Czech Republic (2-4). With their quarterfinal losses, Belarus, Czech Republic, South Korea and Spain have concluded their Olympic play.

Donovan is assisted by University of Texas head coach Gail Goestenkors, University of South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley and Connecticut Sun head coach Mike Thibault.

The defending Olympic champs, the USA women in fact will be vying for a fourth consecutive Olympic gold. Since women's basketball was officially staged at the 1976 Olympics, the Americans have collected a record five gold medals, one silver and one bronze medal, and now own a 48-3 (.941) overall record in eight Olympic appearances (the United States chose not to participate in the 1980 Olympic Games).