The USA women overcame a tough test against rival Australia on Thursday and won 86-73, setting up a date with France in the Olympic finals on Saturday.
Team USA has now won 40 straight games in Olympic play and is advancing to their fifth straight Gold Medal match. The American women have not lost a game in the Olympics since falling to the Unified Team in the 1992 Games.
Liz Cambage of Australia led all scorers with 19 points while teammate Lauren Jackson posted a 14-point, 17-rebound double-double performance. Kristi Harrower (12) and Jenna O’Hea (10) were also in double-figures for the Opals.
Tina Charles achieved a double-double of her own with 14 points and 10 boards, Diana Taurasi matched Charles’ output with 14 points, and Sue Bird chipped in with 13 points for Team USA.
Australia trailed to start the game but tied the score at the 7:25 mark in the opening quarter and went on to control a surprising 22-20 lead at the end of the period. Rachel Jarry knocked down a jumper with five minutes remaining in the second quarter to help the Opals extended their advantage to seven points, 39-32, the largest lead for either team in the game, but the U.S. was able to cut the deficit in half and went into the break trailing 47-43.
Cambage was an absolute beast for the Aussies, posing as an unstoppable force in the post and dropping 19 points on the defending four-time Gold Medal champs … by halftime. But Team USA made great adjustments during the break and came out playing stifling defense, holding Cambage scoreless in the third and fourth quarters.
The U.S. took the lead early in the third but gave it up a few minutes later. Down 56-55 and Taurasi on the bench with four fouls, USA coach Geno Auriemma turned to his bench. The reserves responded and sparked a game-changing run.
Whalen started the 16-6 burst by scoring the first six points, while Seimone Augustus chipped in with another four points to help the U.S. take a 65-59 advantage at the end of the third period.
The Americans built a 15-point lead late in the fourth quarter and cruised in the final minutes to a 86-73 victory.
The United States is looking to win their fifth straight Olympic Gold Medal, they will play France in the finals on Saturday, Aug. 11 at 4:00 PM (ET).