Stocked With UConn Talent, US Women Beat Spain 103-63

DOUG FEINBERG
AP Basketball Writer

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Everywhere Sue Bird looks on the court, there’s someone in a U.S. jersey that can score. It’s a point guard’s dream.

From top to bottom this version of the American Olympic women’s basketball team is stacked with offensive weapons. And at the early pace they are scoring at the Rio Games, they might break the 1996 team’s record average of 102.4 points a game.

Diana Taurasi scored 13 points and Sylvia Fowles added 12 on Monday as the U.S. posted its second blowout in as many days, beating Spain 103-63 on Monday. That’s two consecutive contests the U.S. scored at least 100 points — the last time the Americans did that was in 2004.

“A lot of Olympic teams that I’ve been on have had offensive power, but now we go all the way down the line to the 12th player,” said Bird, who had nine points and five assists in the win. “And the minute you stop there’s no let-off. That person comes in and can do just as much offensively as the next. And also, we have our foot on the gas pedal.

“We’re trying to get better in every single game and you can’t, you can’t relax. I know the score is, it is what it is. But we don’t relax regardless.”

This team is so good offensively that reigning WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne comes off the bench and Tamika Catchings is the 12th player.

“Weapons. We’re full of weapons. One through 12, everybody that comes in contributes to some capacity,” Catchings said. “And that’s offensively, defensively as well. You’re talking about 100 points — you’ve got to be able to score. It’s fun. It’s fun to watch. It’s fun to be a part of. When we move the ball and everybody is just kind of like __ everybody’s doing their part __ screening, rolling, cutting to the basket __ you never know where the shot is going to come from. As a team, we’re so selfless.”

The Americans (2-0) had a team-record 36 assists in the opening win. They followed that up with 23 against Spain.

The victory was the 43rd consecutive for the U.S. in the Olympics. The contest was a rematch of the 2014 world championship gold medal game that the Americans won by 13. While this win didn’t come in the same record fashion the U.S. opened the Olympics with when it beat Senegal by 65 points, the Americans coasted after the first few minutes.

Spain (1-1) led 8-6 before the U.S. closed the quarter on a 23-6 burst. Delle Donne was in the middle of it. She had seven points, including a 3-pointer from the wing that made it 27-11 during the game-changing spurt. The Spaniards couldn’t get within single digits the rest of the way.

“Everyone we bring in off the bench can score and make a play,” U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said. “It’s fun to watch. For as little time as we had together, we do a lot of really nice things out there which is nice to see.”

Spain fought just to stay within 20 in the second quarter, thanks in part to the play of guard Leticia Romero, who stars at Florida State. The Olympic newcomer got her first playing time of the tournament and scored five straight points as Spain trailed 54-37 at the half. She finished with nine points.

“It was going to be a tough game,” Romero said. “They have to have a really, really bad game for us to have a chance to win it. Anything that we can get from today is positive.”

Bird ensured there would be some tough lessons Spain could take away.

Playing in her fourth Olympics, Bird started the second half with a steal and then raced down the court for the layup. A few minutes later the lead was over 20 and the rout was on as Taurasi and Brittney Griner waved their arms to get a “USA” chant started. In Sunday’s win over Senegal, the crowd was behind the underdogs shouting down any American cheers. This time they wouldn’t be drowned out.

Alba Torrens, who the Connecticut Sun have the rights to in the WNBA, led Spain with 20 points.

Spain missed the 2012 Olympics, but won the silver at the worlds. The Spaniards have never beaten the U.S. in a major competition, falling to 0-10 at the Olympics and world championships. They have

The U.S. next plays Serbia on Wednesday while Spain faces China.

___

Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg

 

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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