What the American women have done at the Olympics in the sport of basketball has been nothing short of dominant but their 40th straight win provided perhaps their toughest test in some time as the gold medal favorites squeaked by the Aussies on Thursday with a 86-73 win to move on to the final.
Team USA's guard-centric approach on offense got them in trouble for most of the first half, as Australia pounded it inside with former WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson and Elizabeth Cambage, who had 19 at the half, leading the way. The defense seemed to adjust from worrying about the perimeter shot from the Aussies to focusing on guarding the paint late in the first half but the team still went into the locker room down by four, trailing for the first time the entire tournament at that point.
The U.S. had entered play by coasting through most of the tournament, winning their games by an average of 38 points.
In the second half it was a much more cohesive effort on the defensive end for the American women with crisp passing on offense powering a nice turnaround. Diana Taurasi picked up her fourth foul with close to three minutes left in the 3rd to reflect a mediocre game for the most part for the star. Her backup, Lindsay Whalen, wound up scoring seven straight in two-minute span to key a big run that allowed the team to retake control of the game and stretched their lead out to six going into the final quarter.
Free throw shooting was an issue for the squad throughout, finishing under the 60% mark on the afternoon. Luckily their defense in the second half came through to hold the Aussies under 40% shooting.
Lauren Jackson did become the all-time scorer at the Olympics but still has not managed to get past the U.S. for a gold medal in her career. The American women have not lost since 1992 at the Olympics and will face either Russia or France on Saturday for the gold medal.