By K.C. Johnson, Tribune Newspapers
11:47 PM EDT, August 5, 2012
— The U.S. women's basketball team destroyed China, 114-66, on Saturday afternoon at Olympic Park Basketball Arena, closing pool play unbeaten in five games and setting team records while doing so.
In winning its 38th straight Olympic game, the United States tied a 20-year mark for most points, sank 52 field goals to better by five a 16-year record, and distributed 33 assists to smash the 16-year record of 30.
For good measure, Angel McCoughtry (St. Frances) went 8-for-8 shooting off the bench, eclipsing Lisa Leslie's 7-for-7 mark for perfection set at the 2008 Beijing Games.
And all this might not be the scariest part for opponents as the United States enters Tuesday's quarterfinals against Canada. No, that might be that the United States remains edgy, and that Diana Taurasi has marching orders.
"When I'm open, I have strict orders to shoot," Taurasi said. "So I'm just going along with orders."
Taurasi scored 22 points on 10 shots in just under 21 minutes to lead six in double figures as the United States shot 63 percent. China, which entered 3-1, hung within three after the first quarter, making the 83-38 margin over the final three quarters all the more impressive.
Beyond the scoring, Team USA posted 14 steals, blocked five shots and scored 28 off turnovers.
"Even in the first quarter when they hung in, we had a better flow," Taurasi said. "We were on the entire game."
Actually, Taurasi wasn't. She sat down the stretch of the blowout with other starters.
For the second straight game, coach Geno Auriemma started Maya Moore More for Candace Parker, raising a few eyebrows. So be it, said Auriemma, who credited Parker with changing the game in the second quarter.
Parker finished with 10 points, six rebounds and four assists.
"Whoever she is playing against is tired. And whoever the other team brings in isn't as good. So she's got a huge advantage in that situation," Auriemma said, suggesting that Parker might be playing the way she is because she was angry he didn't start her. "But you know what? I'm OK with that," he said.
This edginess extended to Sue Bird, answering a question about whether the women feel their bid for an unprecedented fifth straight gold is getting overlooked.
"That's a tough one," Bird said. "Women's basketball is still growing, and I hope we're part of that growth and help get it to where I think it should be. I do believe if another team was going for a record similar to the one we are, you might hear about it more."
Three more victories, and you'll hear plenty.
Lea finishes 12th
Cyclist Bobby Lea of Easton finished the inaugural two-day, six-event men's omnium in 12th place.
"With the exception of being one-tenth of a second off a personal record in the flying lap, everything else I've done here has been my best to date," Lea said. "I can leave here knowing that I've ridden the best that I can."
In the final three events, Lea finished 13th in the kilometer time trial, 10th in the scratch race and 11th in the individual pursuit to land the two-time Olympian in 12th behind winner Lasse Morman Hansen of Denmark.
During the morning session, Lea finished 11th in the individual pursuit after completing the 4 km ride in 4 minutes, 30.127 seconds, moving him into ninth place in the overall standings.
Lea was seventh in the 15 km scratch race and moved into 10th place overall with 48 points, 23 behind the leaders.
In the final omnium event, Lea cranked out a 1:04.853 for the 13th-best time in the 1 km time trial, dropping him into 12th overall in the final standings with 61 total points.
—Gary Blockus, Tribune Newspapers
Matthew Centrowitz (Broadneck) avoided a falling runner for the second race in a row and advanced to his first Olympic final in the men's 1,500 meters. Centrowitz ran among the leaders holding tight to the rail for virtually all of semifinal heat two, until the front-runners made their break on the final lap. He finished safely in fifth in 3:34.90 to automatically move to Tuesday's final.
Hall eliminated in RS-X
In women's windsurfing, Farrah Hall of Annapolis sailed 16th in Race 9 and 16th in Race 10 in RS-X, completing her first Olympic sailing regatta. The Sunday results gave her a final placement of 20th overall. Only the top 10 competitors advanced to the medal race.
Sun news services contributed to this article.
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