Taking on an unbeaten Canadian team, it looked like the U.S. may finally have found a worthy adversary at the Rio Olympics.
After one quarter Canada trailed by just two, 18-16, matching not only the U.S. intensity, but skill level. But, in the second quarter, the United States proved to be as dominant as they’ve come to be expected, holding Canada to just six points in the period. Maya Moore was the catalyst for the U.S. in the second, scoring eight points in the period. She finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals.
By the time both teams entered the locker rooms at half, the U.S. had extended their lead to 14 and led 36-22. The United States would go on to win their 45th consecutive Olympic game, beating Canada 81-51 to improve to 4-0 in Rio.
Diana Taurasi continued her Olympic-long three-point storm, raining four triples in the game. After a quartet of games in Rio, Taurasi has 18 threes – only eight shy of the record for threes made in a single Olympic tournament. She had 12 points, tied with Moore for the game-high.
Sue Bird shared after the win, “I think what’s most impressive is that you have a group of women who, every single one of us is the best, the second best, the third best player on their team in the WNBA. Every single one of us have been all-stars, some of us have been MVPs, the best players on their teams in the world, over here and over there, and yet we were probably playing harder than any team in the tournament right now. I think that says a lot about us as individuals and us as a group. Because that’s what that was, that was effort. It’s not necessarily … part of it is chemistry, but it’s not necessarily a chemistry thing, it was an effort thing.
Holding the U.S. to 81, Canada snapped the American streak of three straight 100-point games – an Olympic first in the women’s tournament.
After allowing 16 first-quarter points, the U.S. stifled the Canadian attack the rest of the way, allowing 35 points in the final three periods. None of the Canadians scored in double digits. Canada’s Kia Nurse, who plays for Geno Auriemma and UConn, was held to three points on one-for-nine shooting.
Through four games, the U.S. has outscored their opponents by an average of 40.25 points per game.
“That’s what happens when you’re playing on such a great team with amazing players,” said Elena Delle Donne. “You look left and right and there’s the world’s greatest players right next to you. It’s an adjustment for sure, but we do know we have so much strength coming off the bench. A lot of teams will have a great starting five but they don’t have nearly the deep bench that we have. We know what a strength it is and we have to be able to come out strong every single time.”
Both teams will play their final preliminary game on Sunday, with the U.S. facing China and Canada taking on Spain. Canada and the U.S. have already clinched spots in the knockout round.