U.S. women topple Croatia in Olympic women's basketball
London, England (Sports Network) - Tina Charles scored 14 points and Angel McCoughtry added 13, as the United States opened its quest for another Olympic gold medal in women's basketball with an 81-56 victory over Croatia.
The Americans have won the last four gold medals and six of the nine since women's basketball became an Olympic sport in 1976. They might be more of an overwhelming favorite for another gold than their male counterparts.
Saturday wasn't as much of a blowout as the score indicated. The Americans held the Croats to just four points in a sluggish first quarter and it was just 53-47 heading to the fourth, but the U.S. eventually pulled away.
The Americans scored the first nine points and held the Croats without a basket until Marija Vrsaljko scored with just under two minutes left in the opening quarter.
Croatia, though, dominated the early portion of the second quarter as a 14-0 run turned a 21-9 deficit into a surprising 23-21 lead. A three-pointer moments later by Jelena Ivezic gave the Croats a 26-23 advantage.
Diana Taurasi then turned the tide with back-to-back three-pointers and the Americans never trailed again. The Croats, though, went into the break down just 31-28.
Ivezic's bucket to start the third quarter pulled Croatia within one and it was a 36-36 game with just under six minutes left in the period. Lindsay Whalen scored four in a 6-0 U.S. burst that created a little breathing room, 47-40, and the Americans carried a 53-47 lead to the final period.
After Vrsaljko started the fourth with a bucket for the Croats, the Americans scored the next 16 points to finally put it away. Tamika Catchings' three- point play with just under six minutes left gave the U.S. a 69-49 cushion and Croatia never recovered.
Catchings chipped in 10 points for the Americans and Whalen scored nine. Charles added 10 rebounds for a double-double, while Candace Parker contributed her own double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds. The Americans held a commanding 57-32 edge on the boards.
Ivezic led Croatia with 22 points, while Vrsaljko supplied 19 in defeat. Only four other players scored for the Croats.
07/28 13:48:45 ET