Women’s national team ends pool play undefeated after win over France
With a spot in the quarterfinals already secured, the USA women’s national team had to fight off a desperate France team in the last game of pool play.
Team USA beat France, 93-82, Sunday, Aug. 1 from the Saitama Super Arena in the final game of pool play.
“We just wanted to get stops,” guard Jewell Loyd said. “That was the biggest thing that we’ve talked about. Just being more vocal, getting stops and executing down the stretch.” The streak has now reached 52 straight Olympic wins for the women’s national team ahead of the knockout stage, including going 3-0 in pool play.
Team USA is actively pursuing it’s seventh straight gold medal.
As of now, the team will have to wait to find out who they will be playing in the quarterfinals, set to begin Tuesday, Aug. 3.
“When you have great leadership, it helps a lot,” Loyd said with a smile. “When you’re able to rely on [guards Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi] constantly giving you advice and figuring things out but we needed this.
“We want to be playing our best basketball in the next couple days and achieve our goals.”
While Team USA didn’t have to wonder about qualifying for the quarterfinals, it’s opponent did.
France needed to either win the game or lose by 14 points or less in order to make it into the quarterfinals surpassing Canada.
“[We just had to] rely on our defense,” Loyd said. “We were able to force some tough shots and make some of the catches and reversals a little bit harder, limit them to one shot and come down and be able to make a couple shots.”
That desperation was evident as France came out and battled back from a 9-2 deficit at the start of the game to tie it at 9, 11 and 13 before the end of the first quarter.
Las Vegas Aces’ draft pick Iliana Rupert scored seven points in the first quarter as France took a 22-19 lead into the second.
However, a 11-2 run to end the second quarter regained control for the US, taking a 50-44 lead into halftime.
“Defensively, we went to switching everything,” Loyd said. “[France] was doing a lot of curls, the middle of the paint was open a little bit so once we started to switch we had different closeouts and different matchups, then it came down to rebounding.”
Much like the first quarter, France battled back again and would cut the deficit to one before the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the team would take a 72-71 lead, its last of the game.
Forward Tina Charles made a three-pointer for Team USA to give the team the 74-72 lead, a lead the team would not relinquish.
She hit another one to put the team up 10 with a little over five minutes to go.
“Tina’s always stable,” Loyd said. “They were leaving her open, she felt good before the game, we talked about it. She takes her shots. Our ability to find the open person, the confidence everybody has on this team definitely showed tonight and she played really, really well.”
Charles scored 15 points off-the-bench, shooting 6-of-9 from the floor including going 3-of-3 from three-point range.
All of her three-pointers came in the second half.
She also dished out five assists and snagged one steal.
Forward Breanna Stewart was on triple-double watch as she finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and seven assists on 50% shooting from the field.
She scored her first 14 points in the second quarter in the midst of the 11-2 run that potentially changed the outcome of the game.
Forward A’ja Wilson led the team in scoring once again with 22 points, seven rebounds, two steals and a block on 9-of-12 from the field.
“We’re definitely fortunate to have a lot of versatility on this team,” Loyd said. “Everyone has value on this team [...] We were able to move the ball very well, we were able to find each other. I think the more we play with each other, the more we figure out each other’s strengths.”
Loyd led the team with eight assists to go along with two points and two steals off-the-bench.
74 of the 93 Team USA points came from the team’s frontcourt.