The Americans won their 52nd consecutive game Monday, beating France 93-82 in the teams’ last game of Group B play.
To end the first quarter, the U.S. trailed France 22-19. In their three group play games, they’ve come out of the first quarter behind.
Some would argue the slow starts could come to bite the U.S. later, but U.S. coach Dawn Staley doesn’t see it that way.
“Here’s the thing: We take everybody’s best effort,” Staley said. “A marathon isn’t won in the first mile, and the first quarter is the first mile to us. We get everybody’s best shot; the adrenaline is flowing on both sides. It’s hard to create separation.”
“I don’t necessarily think it’s a slow start [by the USA], it’s just a fast start by other teams. We have to take their punch, and we just have to keep doing what we’re doing.”
France hung around during the second and third quarters, finally took a 72-71 lead early in the fourth. But timely three-pointers back to back by center Tina Charles and forward A’Ja Wilson’s superb 22-point display put the game away for good. Wilson, who is playing in her first Olympics, is averaging 20.3 points per game for Team USA through three games.
Team USA shot 56% from the field on Monday, led by Wilson’s 9-of-12 performance; she is 24 of 37 from the field (64.9%) in Tokyo. Tina Charles (15 points) was 6-of-9, including three 3-pointers, Breanna Stewart (17) was 7-of-14, Griner (11) 5-of-9 and Fowles (nine) 2-of-3.
Sub-plot to the U.S. victory was Diana Taurasi’s wrist injury. Around the 8:30 mark in the first quarter, Taurasi indicated to the bench that she wasn’t right, holding her wrist. She came out but did return in the second quarter. That’s something to monitor going forward.
The U.S. will have to wait until the final group play game concludes Monday to know who it will play in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.