At the start of this Olympic run, the US women’s national team knew that if it’s win streak reached 55 straight games, the team’s mission would be accomplished.
As anticipated, Team USA secured 55 straight wins and seized its seventh straight gold medal.
“I thought we saved our best performance for our last performance,” head coach Dawn Staley said. “I just thought we did a great job on both sides of the basketball. Japan pushed us and made us focus a little bit harder and the fact that it was a gold medal game.”
Team USA beat host-country Japan, 90-75, from the Saitama Super Arena in the gold medal game of the Tokyo Olympics.
Now the team is tied with the men’s basketball national team, who won seven straight gold medals from 1936 to 1968.
“There are going to be times -- I’m talking within a game, within a career, within games -- where someone is going to have to carry you,” guard Sue Bird said. “And then there are times where you’re going to have to help carry someone else. And that’s what it’s about, we truly are a team.”
It’s another gold medal for Staley who is now 46-0 in Olympic play, adding a fourth gold medal in the process.
In addition, guards Bird and Diana Taurasi both now have five gold medals apiece.
During the postgame press conference, Bird along with Staley announced that they will be retiring from international play.
“I’m happy we had two legends here on our team to will us to a gold medal game and to get the win,” Staley said.
It was the ultimate display of size vs. speed once again as the US dominated Japan at almost every turn. Center Brittney Griner led the way with a game-high 30 points on 14-of-18 shooting.
“Obviously, I have a close connection with BG,” Taurasi said. “I think what she showed in this tournament just shows you what level she can go to and how she can dominate a game. I always tell her, ‘I don’t even think you know how good you are.’ But that also is the best thing about her, she’s the ultimate teammate.” Griner started the game 3-for-3 with six points building a 14-5 lead for the US.
Her first two misses of the game were followed and cleaned up by herself.
By the end of the first half, Griner had already reached a new-high in points during these Olympics with 18 points on 9-of-10 from the field in the first 20 minutes of the game.
She also tallied 14 rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks.
As a team, the US shot 54% while holding Japan to 36%.
Forward A’ja Wilson added 19 points claiming her first gold medal on her 25th birthday.
Wilson along with five other teammates won their first gold medals.