Team USA is on to the semifinals of the women's basketball tournament at the Tokyo Olympics. It got there in emphatic fashion with a 79-55 win over Australia in the quarterfinals on Wednesday morning to run its incredible Olympic winning streak to 53 games.
Slow starts had been a theme for Team USA in Tokyo, as it trailed after the first quarter in all three of its group stage games. There was no such issue against Australia, however. Whether it was the loss to the Opals in a pre-Olympics exhibition game, or just a desire to put some shaky early performances behind them, the Americans came out looking like they had something to prove.
Using a 17-0 run in the middle of the opening frame, during which they held Australia scoreless for over five minutes, the Americans jumped out to a 26-12 lead after the first quarter and didn't look back. Save for a few possessions in the second quarter, Team USA led by double digits the rest of the way, and was on cruise control for the entire second half.
On an individual level, Breanna Stewart led the way with her best performance of this tournament. She was a big part of the first-quarter surge to take control, and had 20 points by halftime (Australia as a team only had 27 at the break). Stewart finished with 23 points, five rebounds and three assists in just 23 minutes. If the game had been closer and she didn't sit out much of the second half, she would have had a chance to make a run at Lisa Leslie's American Olympic record of 35 points.
Team USA is now just two wins away from a historic seventh straight gold medal. First, the team will have to get past a semifinal contest against Serbia, which used a huge fourth-quarter comeback to beat China in the quarterfinals. That game is set for Friday, and will be the first time the two countries have ever met in the knockout stage. They did meet in the group stage at the 2016 Olympics, and Team USA won that meeting, 110-84.