RIO DE JANEIRO — Someday, the U.S. women’s basketball will lose an Olympics game.
Someday does not appear to be any day soon.
The U.S. outlasted France – an improving team but not quite there yet – for an 86-67 victory Thursday in the semifinals.
When in doubt – and you don’t need to be U.S. women’s basketball Geno Auriemma to call this play – get the basketball to Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore. Taurasi scored 12 of her 18-points and delivered four assists in the second half and Moore added 15 points.
“We’re locked in right now,” Taurasi said.
It was the USA’s 48th consecutive Olympic victory, and of those 48 victories, just one was decided by fewer than 10 points.
Now, a sixth consecutive Olympic gold is one victory away. The U.S. will play Spain in the final Saturday (2:30 p.m. ET). In group play earlier in the competition, the U.S. beat Spain 103-63.
“It’s huge. I know it. I can feel,” Taurasi said of the chance to win her fourth consecutive gold in what could be her final Olympics game. “A lot of people in this locker room know how important it is to a lot of people.”
Against France, it was more of a grind-out victory than complete domination. With 2:19 left in the fourth quarter, France trailed by 11 and never allowed the U.S. run away with the game.
“The other teams go to practice, too,” Taurasi said. “They practice their shooting and their plays and their defensive rotations. They made us work.
“Before the game started, I said, ‘You guys, this is going to be hard tonight.’ I know France like the back of my hand. I’ve played them in Euroleague for the last 12 years. I’ve played them in international play for the last 12 years. It’s never an easy game against them.”
France lost to the USA by 36 points in the gold-medal game at the 2012 London Olympics and closed the gap over the next four years.
“Four years ago we were so happy to have the silver. We were so happy we didn’t even play the game. We were watching them,” France’s Isabelle Yacoubou said. “Tonight the challenge was to play our basketball.”