One step away from playing for their sixth consecutive Olympic gold medal, the U.S. women meet France in the second semifinal of the day. The two nations met in the gold medal game of the last Summer Olympics, with the Americans rolling to an 86-50 victory in London.
While the U.S. was dominant in the second half of their win over Japan in the quarterfinals, France eliminated Canada in a hard-fought game by the final score of 68-63. Sandrine Gruda led a balanced scoring attack with 14 points, and balance has been the key for France in Rio. They’re going to have to be even better than they have been defensively if they’re to dethrone Diana Taurasi and company however, as the U.S. has scored more than 100 points in five of their six games in Rio.
WATCH LIVE: Women’s basketball semifinal, U.S. vs. France — 6 p.m. Eastern
The winner gets either Spain or Serbia in Saturday’s gold medal game.
With 1:29 left in the first half a layup by Ramu Tokashiki pulled Japan to within two points of the U.S. women, 48-46. Executing well offensively, the fourth-place team in Pool A was putting up far greater of a fight than anyone anticipated. But Geno Auriemma’s team grabbed control of the game with an 8-0 run to end the first half, and a dominant second half on both ends of the floor resulted in a 110-64 victory for the Americans.
Next up for the U.S., which has now won 47 straight games in Olympic competition, will be France in Thursday’s semifinals. In the final game of the night, France defeated Canada 68-63.
Diana Taurasi and Maya Moore scored 19 points apiece to lead the way for the U.S., which limited Japan to just 18 second-half points. In addition to being far more aggressive defensively, with Brittney Griner serving as a deterrent around the basket with three blocked shots (changing other shots, as well), the U.S. was also more patient offensively. Instead of looking for the first available look and at at times settling in the first half, the U.S. was clinical offensively in the final 20 minutes.
Also reaching double figures were Angel McCoughtry (13 points), Elena Delle Donne (11) and Sylvia Fowles (ten), with Griner (seven rebounds), Delle Donne, Fowles and Charles (six rebounds apiece) all grabbing at least six rebounds on the night. Tokashiki led Japan in scoring with 14 points, with Mika Kurihara and Sanae Motokawa adding 12 apiece.
Since winning the bronze medal game at the 1992 Summer Olympics, the U.S. women’s basketball game has not lost in international competition. And with three more wins Geno Auriemma’s team will have the program’s sixth straight Olympic gold medal, something they’re expected to accomplished based on both their talent and the way in which they’ve beaten teams in Rio.
WATCH LIVE: Women’s basketball quarterfinals — 10 a.m. Eastern
Just one of their five wins in pool play was by fewer than 30 points, with that being a 110-84 win over Serbia. And with all due respect to Japan, their opponent in the quarterfinal round, it would be a surprise if Diana Taurasi, Maya Moore and company didn’t win by 30-plus Tuesday. Japan went 3-2 in pool play, dropping into fourth position due to tiebreakers with Turkey and France.
WATCH LIVE: U.S. vs. Japan, women’s basketball quarterfinals — 5:45 p.m. Eastern
Leading the way for Japan has been forward Ramu Tokashiki, who averaged 17.6 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in pool play. Shooting just under 51 percent from the field at the Olympics, Tokashiki will draw the attention of American players Tina Charles, Brittney Griner and Sylvia Fowles in the low post. Fellow forward Mika Kurihara (12.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg) has also played well for Japan, but this is a matchup that should be a beneficial one for the U.S. guards.
The winner of this game will take on the winner of the quarterfinal matching France and Canada on Thursday.
This will be the third of four quarterfinals played Tuesday, with Serbia/Australia getting things started at 10 a.m. Eastern. That will be followed by the matchup between Spain and Turkey, with France and Canada meeting in the final game of the night.