Leslie, Thompson Lead U.S. To Quarterfinals
Aug. 23, 2004
ATHENS -- The 2004 U.S. Women's Olympic Team remained perfect and won its fifth game in as many days with a 100-62 victory over 2003 Asian Championship gold medalist China (1-4) on Sunday night in Athens. The USA's shattering of China was aided by Lisa Leslie's (LA Sparks/USC) 17 points and Tina Thompson's (Houston Comets/USC) seven rebounds.Yolanda Griffith led the USA with a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds, while the team's offensive clinic was further bolstered a team high 19 points from Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) and 13 points from Sheryl Swoopes (Houston Comets).The U.S., following two days off, will face host Greece (2-3), the fourth seed in Group A on Aug. 25 in Olympic medal round quarterfinal play. The game will be an interesting match-up of sorts between Temple University (Pa.) head coach and USA guard Dawn Staley (Charlotte Sting) against former Temple forward Athena Christoforaki of the Greek team. The winner of that game will advance to the Aug. 27 semifinals and the gold medal will be contested Aug. 28. Game times for the quarterfinals have not yet been announced.Getting off to a slow start the United States allowed China to hold a 5-3 edge to open the contest. Tina Thompson (Houston Comets) then scored four points in an 8-2 U.S. run as the USA took a 13-7 lead with five minutes expired on the clock. China hit the game's next two buckets to pull to 13-11 at 3:59. However, with the help of a pair of threes from Taurasi and four points coming from Griffith, the USA outscored China 14-2 to close out the first quarter with a 27-13 cushion.China never seriously threatened after the opening minutes. The Asians, never able to cut the USA's lead into single digits, saw the Americans expand their lead to 52-32 at the half, 75-45 at the end of three periods and as many as 39 points (94-55) before the final buzzer sounded.The U.S. had its best shooting night of the Olympics, connecting on a sizzling 51.8 percent (44-84 FGs) from the field and held China to just 35.8 percent (19-53 FGs). The U.S. again were dominant on the glass and owned a 46-22 rebounding advantage. In fact, through five games, the United States has outrebounded foes by 22.0 rpg. (45.8 rpg. to 23.4 rpg.). In collecting 22 steals on the night, the Americans forced 19 turnovers. They also scored a whopping 74 points in the paint and 20 points on the fast break.In today's other Group B action the Czech Republic (3-2) defeated New Zealand (2-3) 74-57 and Spain (4-1) edged South Korea (0-5) 64-61. In Group A Australia (5-0) remained undefeated with an 84-66 win over Brazil (3-2), Russia (4-1) routed Nigeria (0-5) 93-58 and Greece (2-3) advanced to the quarterfinals with a close 93-91 game over Japan (1-4).'I really dread playing Greece,' commented USA head coach Van Chancellor. 'To play them in front of about 15,000-20,000 people, at home, with everybody in the crowd pulling for them. To me we've got a tough bracket. Play them if we win this game we play the winner of Russia - Czech (Republic). So boy, is that tough. I hate to just play a team here at home, I really do. We got a few horses don't misunderstand me now, but I really hate to play them.'The three other quarterfinals contests include Russia against the Czech Republic, Spain will face Brazil and Australia meets New Zealand. The winners will advance to the Aug. 27 semifinals.With the victory over China, the U.S. upped its Olympic winning streak to 22 games, dating back to the 1992 bronze medal contest. The USA now owns a 39-3 overall record (.929 winning percentage) in Olympic competition and has won a record four golds, one silver and one bronze medal in the six previous Olympic basketball competitions in which the U.S. competed. The United States, which earned the silver medal at the inaugural Olympic women's basketball tournament in 1976, earned its first gold at the `84 Games in Los Angeles, collected gold again in Seoul in `88, and captured back-to-back golds with unblemished 8-0 records in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.
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