LONDON -- A day after the U.S. Olympic women’s soccer team won a dramatic (and somewhat controversial) double-overtime semifinal against Canada, the U.S. women’s basketball team piled on the pain with a 91-48 rout of the Canadians in a quarterfinal matchup. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and James Harden of the U.S. men’s team attended the game after their practice.
It was the 39th win in a row for Team USA. As it happens, the game was played on the 20th anniversary of the start of the streak at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. The United States has won the past four Olympic gold medals and has a 56-3 record since women’s basketball was added to the Olympics in 1976.
“The American women’s basketball team may just be the most dominant team in team sports,” Canadian coach Allison McNeill said. “Right now they are just playing so well. They are just at a level. They are so deep, they have so many good players that they are going to be so tough to beat. We battled but we were just undersized, under-everything. We are not quite ready for that level.”
Diana Taurasi (Chino, Calif.) led all scorers with 15 points. Candace Parker (Naperville, Ill.) had 12 points and seven rebounds. Sylvia Fowles (Miami) played in her second consecutive game after missing three to rest a sore left foot. She scored 12 points in nine minutes. The 6-6 center commands double teams and opened things up for American shooters.
“Unfortunately, I came here on thin ice because I injured my foot during the WNBA season,” Fowles said. “I kind of re-tweaked it here. The coaches and trainers decided to rest me a few games, which I was not pleased with. But it turned out to work in my favor. I got rest and now I can contribute when it matters most.”
The United States dominated from the start, and the Canadians looked overwhelmed. They committed three shot-clock violations in the first seven minutes. At halftime, the United States led 42-21. The Americans advance to the semifinals on Thursday, when they will meet Australia. It is the eighth consecutive semifinal for Team USA.
U.S. coach Geno Auriemma was asked if he thinks his team doesn’t get the credit it deserves. He said the other day somebody put a pile of “Road to Respect” T-shirts in his team’s locker room, a reference to the U.S. men’s “Road to Redemption” slogan at the Beijing Olympics.
“I thought, ‘You know what? That’s kind of dumb,” Auriemma said. “Sue Bird’s won two gold medals, two WNBA championships, a million Euro championships, world titles, two national championships at UConn. If they don’t respect her by now and all the other players, screw them. … We don’t need T-shirts to say a slogan. We have one slogan: Earn the respect of your teammates, coaching staff and opponent. Other than that, could care less if anyone else respects what we do.
“There are no feminists on my team. We’re not running around burning our bras trying to make people believe in our team. I mean, I would burn mine ’cause it doesn’t fit like it used to. We just play basketball and whether anybody cares or writes about it, there’s nothing we can do about that. We’re not in the [public relations] business, we’re in the basketball business and we’re pretty damned good at it.”