The U.S. women say they don’t care about the final score. They just want to have least one more point than their opponent at the end of games in the women’s Olympic basketball tournament.
That sounds like the right thing to say after Candace Parker had 14 points and 12 rebounds to lead the United States to a 90-38 rout of Angola on Monday night.
But the Americans aren’t just being politically correct.
They know they are still a work in progress, having only been together training for two weeks and are going to play some tough games during the tournament.
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The game against Angola was expected to be an easy romp — and it was — with the United States overwhelming the Olympic newcomer.
“It’s definitely about ourselves,” U.S. guard Sue Bird said. “That’s how coach [Geno] Auriemma coaches in college. It’s his philosophy. Never about how much you win by or lose by, it’s how we played. Especially in a game like [Monday night] where going in we kind of had a feeling it might be like this. Not to play to the score, not to relax.
“This is an opportunity for us to play together, and we need to take advantage of every opportunity we get.”
Parker finished with her second double-double of the tournament. She said her teammates did a good job of getting her the ball.
“The goal is to continue to get better every game, and I think that was what we did” against Angola, Parker said.
The Americans (2-0) have won their past 35 consecutive games in the Olympics and four consecutive gold medals while Angola is looking for its first victory. The team lost its opener to Turkey by 22 points, meaning African nations have won only one of their 25 games in the Olympics since Congo — formerly known as Zaire — first qualified in the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Nigeria owns the only victory, beating Korea by four points in 2004.
The Americans had played African teams two other teams and routed them both. The United States beat Zaire by 60 points in 1996 and then Mali by 56 at the Beijing Games in 2008.
Angola (0-2) did fare a little better than its continental neighbor. The team stayed close to the Americans for the first quarter, only trailing by 10 at the end of the period. Then the United States put the game away, outscoring the African country 19-6 in the second period.
The Americans continued the rout in the second half. The strong crowd that had witnessed some very competitive games all day, emptied out early in the final period knowing the outcome wasn’t in doubt.
Auriemma rested center Sylvia Fowles of Miami, who has a sore left foot.
“I tweaked it a little bit [Sunday] in practice and I gave it a go [Monday] morning, and it didn’t feel quite right so we’re just resting it and playing it safe,” she said.
It didn’t matter as the 6-4 Parker looked confident on the floor, demanding the ball in the post and running the floor for easy layups.
The game was a contrast for the United States from its opener when it struggled on offense for the first three quarters before pulling away from Croatia.
Despite the lopsided final score, Auriemma has been impressed in the growth he has seen in Angola and other African countries.
“Hopefully they devote more energy and resources and they can come back to the Olympics on a regular basis,” he said.
In other games Monday, France shocked Australia 74-70 in OT. It was the first loss by the Aussies to anyone other than the United States in an Olympic game since 1996. China routed Croatia 83-58; Russia beat Brazil 69-59; and Canada edged Britain 73-65.