Much has been made the past couple of weeks of the U.S. men’s basketball team’s struggles against overmatched Olympic opponents. Meanwhile, you know who didn’t struggle one whit on the way to gold?
The U.S. women’s team, of course.
Maya Moore, Diana Taurasi and company cruised past Spain 101-72 on Saturday to win the U.S. a sixth straight Olympic gold medal and its eighth gold in its last nine Games.
USA wins gold!
USA handily defeats Spain, 101-72, to win its 6th consecutive gold medal in women's basketball. pic.twitter.com/SfAUeh0kFV
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 20, 2016
Unsurprisingly, Saturday’s gold medal game was not close after halftime. Spain trailed only 27-24 with seven minutes left in the second quarter, but it was all U.S. from there. Geno Auriemma’s team shot 58.6 percent from the floor on the day, while holding Spain to 39.7 percent. Taurasi led the way with 17 points, followed by Moore with 14. Overall, players who went to UConn (Taurasi, Moore, Sue Bird, Tina Charles and Breanna Stewart) accounted for 53 of Team U.S.A.’s 101 points.
The U.S. dominated the Olympic tournament from start to finish. In the preliminary round the red, white and blue won by margins of 65, 40, 26, 30. In the quarterfinals, they beat Japan by 46. In the semifinals, they beat France by a mere 19. And then in Saturday’s finals they triumphed by 29. That’s an average margin of 37 points per game, enough to put this team in (atop?) the conversation for best Olympic squad of all-time.
This gold medal is the fourth for veteran co-captains Taurasi, Sue Bird and Tamika Catchings, tying them with Lisa Leslie and Teresa Edwards for most all-time among women’s basketball players.
Here are the U.S.’s results since women’s basketball was introduced into the Olympics:
1976 – silver
1980 – U.S. boycott of Moscow Games
1984 – gold
1988 – gold
1992 – bronze
1996 – gold
2000 – gold
2004 – gold
2008 – gold
2012 – gold
2016 – gold
Some people apparently like to ask whether this kind of dominance is good for women’s basketball. Those people, I would presume, don’t actually watch many of U.S. women’s games because after a few impossible bounce passes through traffic or acrobatic lay-ups or fadeaway jumpers it’s tough to argue this team isn’t fun to watch.
The Olympics offer many heroes, and it’s easy for even a historically dominant team to get lost in the mix. But there’s never a bad time to remember that the U.S. women’s basketball team is really, really good.