Team USA has not moved through the preliminary round with its usual dominance, but it did manage to emerge undefeated (3–0) heading into Wednesday’s quarterfinal matchup with Australia, which includes New York Liberty player Rebecca Allen. The winner of that match advances to the semi-finals of the medal round.
Queens native Tina Charles, in her third Olympics, contributed 15 points in the win over France, including three 3-pointers, which are uncharacteristic of the veteran post player. She had only attempted one 3-pointer in all her previous Olympics appearances, dating back to 2012. “This was preparation meets opportunity,” said Charles. Head coach Dawn Staley called Charles’ 3s “a shot in the arm when we needed it.”
“We all see offensively what she gave to our team, but defensively, I thought she was a glue out there just directing traffic as well,” said Staley. “It’s a luxury to have a three-time Olympian come off the bench and impact the game the way she did. … Hopefully, we can continue to use our depth.”
The game’s leading scorer was A’ja Wilson with 22 points. Second time Olympian Breanna Stewart had 17 points.
“We have great post players; so, anytime I can come off and find them, that’s what I was trying to do tonight. Not do too much, just make the open pass. The post players made themselves available, so it was easy to kind of get a quick outlet there,” said first-time Olympian Jewell Loyd, who had eight assists in the victory over France.
The 93–82 victory over France was intense, with the U.S. utilizing different strategies. Loyd said the U.S. team gets more and more in sync with each game. Playing for France was former WNBA player Sandrine Gruda, Chicago Sky player Gabby Williams and Liberty player Marine Johannes.
“When you have great leadership, it helps a lot to be able to rely on Sue [Bird] and Dee [Diana Taurasi] to constantly give you advice and figuring things out, but we needed this,” said Loyd. “We want to be playing our best basketball the next couple of days and achieve our goals.”
At stake is the U.S. women’s 52-game winning streak in Olympic competition and the goal of a seventh consecutive gold medal. The semi-finals are tomorrow. No doubt, the national team wants to match the gold medal win of the 3×3 team, which was completed last week.