U.S. women’s volleyball wins first ever gold

TOKYO — At the birthplace of Olympic volleyball, Team USA made history Sunday afternoon by capturing the women’s gold medal. The U.S. swept Brazil in straight sets in a match in which the Americans were never really challenged, winning 25-21, 25-20, 25-14.

The victory is the first ever for U.S. women’s volleyball and came three days after April Ross and Alix Klineman won the beach gold medal for the United States.

This story will be updated.

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U.S. women’s water polo routs Spain for 3rd straight gold medal

By JAY COHEN AP Sports Writer

TOKYO — Ashleigh Johnson was terrific, Maddie Musselman dazzled once again and Maggie Steffens led a stellar defensive performance.

The U.S. dynasty in women’s water polo is alive and well.

Johnson made 11 saves, Musselman (Corona del Mar High, UCLA) scored three times and the U.S. won its third consecutive gold medal on Saturday (late Friday night PT), routing Spain, 14-5, in the final at the Tokyo Olympics.

“We’re having fun out there, and I think you could see that today,” Musselman said. “Everyone brought their best when their best was needed.”

Aria Fischer (Laguna Beach High, Stanford), Kaleigh Gilchrist (Newport Harbor High, USC) and Alys Williams (Edison High, UCLA) had two goals apiece as the U.S. improved to 134-4 since it won gold at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. After falling, 10-9, to Hungary during a pool-play match in its first loss at the Olympics since the 2008 final, the U.S. ripped off four consecutive wins by a combined score of 63-26.

The U.S. joins the men’s teams from Britain (1908-1920) and Hungary (2000-2008) as the only countries to win at least three straight water polo titles at the Olympics. The U.S. is the only team to medal in each of the six editions of the women’s tournament at the Games.

“We’ve talked a lot about the fine line between confidence and complacency, but we’ve done just a fantastic job of just staying focused through this process,” Coach Adam Krikorian said, “and it’s amazing.”

Maica Garcia had two goals for Spain, which has lost 13 in a row against the U.S., including the finals of the 2017 and 2019 world championships. The silver medal matches the country’s best finish in the women’s competition.

Garcia, Anni Espar (USC), Roser Tarrago, Laura Ester, Pili Peña and Marta Bach also played for Spain when it lost to the United States in the final at the 2012 Olympics, and they looked primed for revenge in Tokyo. The reigning European champions had won five of six, outlasting Hungary in the semifinals.

Instead, Spain was pushed aside by the U.S. once again.

Steffens (Stanford) and company saved their best for last – as they so often do. The Americans were shaken by their loss to Hungary, but they regrouped with their depth and defense.

Six U.S. players scored on the way to a 7-4 halftime lead. Spain didn’t get its first goal until there was 2:15 left in the first quarter.

When the U.S. ripped off five straight goals in the third period, it was all over. Johnson took a seat on the bench with 2:35 left, and the party was on.

When it was over, Johnson and Krikorian embraced, and Krikorian eventually was dumped into the pool for a quick swim.

Hungary earned the country’s first medal in women’s water polo, beating the Russian team, 11-9, for bronze. Vanda Valyi scored three times on three shots for Hungary, which finished fourth in each of the past three Olympics.

More to come on this story.

THE THREE-PEAT IS COMPLETE! 🥇

The women of @USAWP go back-to-back-to-back! #OlympicHERStory x #TokyoOlympics x @TeamUSA pic.twitter.com/ClRojxBwrB

— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) August 7, 2021

Maggie Steffens is scoring goals. @USAWP x #TokyoOlympics pic.twitter.com/Tex2gjNsxg

— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) August 7, 2021

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U.S. women’s basketball eases past Serbia, will play for 7th straight gold medal

By DOUG FEINBERG AP Basketball Writer

SAITAMA, Japan — Brittney Griner had 15 points and 12 rebounds to help the U.S. beat Serbia, 79-59, on Friday (Thursday night PT) to advance to another Olympic gold-medal game.

The Americans are now one win away from a seventh consecutive gold medal, which would match the U.S. men’s team that won seven Olympic titles in a row from 1936-68.

It would also give Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi five gold medals – the most ever by a basketball player in the Olympics. The Americans will face either Japan or France on Sunday (Saturday, 7:30 p.m. PT).

The U.S. got a scare when Taurasi, grimacing and appearing to rub her left hip after a collision, left the game midway through the third quarter. U.S. trainer Ed Ryan was talking with Taurasi when she went to the bench and she didn’t return. Taurasi missed the three exhibitions in Las Vegas with a hip pointer but appeared to be moving fine during timeouts.

The U.S., which beat both France and Japan in pool play, has won 54 consecutive Olympic games now dating to the semifinals of the 1992 Barcelona Games.

The Americans got off to another strong start for the second straight game. Trailing 4-3, they went on a 20-4 run to take control with a berth in the gold medal game on the line. Griner had four points on one possession. She hit two free throws after a foul was upgraded to an unsportsmanlike one and then scored on a nifty pass from Breanna Stewart and the Americans led 25-12 after one quarter.

Neither team could really get much going for the first few minutes of the second quarter as there were more missed shots and turnovers than points. Serbia cut the deficit to nine points behind Yvonne Anderson, who played at Texas and became a Serbian naturalized citizen last year to play in the Olympics. She finished with a team-high 15 points.

The U.S. scored the next nine points, a run started by A’ja Wilson’s three-point play and led 41-23 at halftime. The lead ballooned to 23 points in the third quarter before the Serbia reserves started pressing and cut the deficit to 14 late in the period. The Americans scored the final five points to put the game away.

Serbia rested its starters for most of the second half with the bronze medal game roughly 24 hours away. The country won the bronze in the 2016 Rio Games. Serbia, which didn’t start warming up for the game until 25 minutes before tip, shot just 30% from the field – including missing 15 of its 19 3-point attempts.

More to come on this story.

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U.S. women’s soccer holds off Australia for bronze medal

By ANNE M. PETERSON AP Sports Writer

KASHIMA, Japan — Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd each scored a pair of goals and the United States won the bronze medal in women’s soccer at the Tokyo Olympics with a 4-3 victory over Australia on Thursday.

It was arguably the best the Americans had looked during the course of a rocky tournament that opened with an uncharacteristic 3-0 loss to Sweden. Rapinoe set the tone early with a goal scored directly from a corner kick.

The loss spoiled the Australians’ first trip to the medal round at any Olympics. No Australian soccer team, men or women, has ever won a medal.

The Matildas were the underdogs against the United States, the top-ranked team in the world and the defending World Cup champions who came to Japan hoping for a fifth gold medal. But the Americans struggled at times during the tournament, including a 1-0 loss to Canada in the semifinals. The Canadians hadn’t defeated their North American counterparts since 2001.

The U.S. team that came out against Australia looked completely different.

Rapinoe scored from a corner kick in the eighth minute to give the Americans an early lead. It was the second time Rapinoe has scored an Olimpico, as goals from corners are known: She also had one in the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics against Canada.

Sam Kerr pulled the Australians even with a goal in the 17th minute that got past U.S. goalkeeper Adrianna Franch.

Franch got her first start in a major tournament in place of Alyssa Naeher, who injured her right knee in the U.S. team’s semifinal loss to Canada.

Just 27, Kerr became the all-time leading scorer for the Australians with 48 goals. She led all scorers remaining in the tournament with six goals.

Rapinoe’s second goal came on a stunning volley in the 21st, and it became obvious that the Australians were missing defender Ellie Carpenter, who was handed a red card late in the Matildas’ 1-0 semifinal loss to Sweden.

Lloyd made it 3-1 in first-half stoppage time when her left-footed shot got past Australia goalkeeper Teagan Micah. She added another on a break in the 51st minute, giving her a U.S. record 10 career Olympic goals.

Lloyd made her 312th appearance for the national team in the match, passing Christie Rampone for second on the all-time list. Kristine Lilly leads the career appearances list with 354.

Lloyd is 39 and likely playing in her last major tournament. When she was replaced in the 81st minute, teammates ran over to offer handshakes and high-fives, and the bench gave her a standing ovation.

Caitlin Foord kept the Australians in the game with a goal in the 54th minute before Emily Gielnik scored to narrow it further in the 90th, but ultimately the Matildas couldn’t make up the difference.

Alex Morgan got hurt in stoppage time and had to be helped off the field. It appeared that she injured her left leg but there was no immediate word on her condition.

The Australians had already met the United States at the Tokyo Olympics, holding the Americans to a scoreless draw in the final game of the group stage. Australia was also the only team in the group to score on the Swedes, who are headed for the gold medal match Friday against Canada.

The U.S. team’s tournament-opening loss to Sweden snapped a 44-match unbeaten streak. After a rebound victory over New Zealand came the scoreless draw with Australia. In the quarterfinals, the U.S. got past the Netherlands via a penalty shootout.

But the Americans were thwarted in a quest to become the first team to win an Olympic title after a World Cup title by their Canadian rivals. Jessie Fleming scored on a penalty kick in the 74th minute for the game’s lone goal.

The United States has reached the gold medal match at the Olympics five times. The Americans have four gold medals, more than any other team since women’s soccer became an Olympic sport in 1996.

But it is the second Olympics they have failed to reach the gold medal match. They were beaten by Sweden in the quarterfinals five years ago in Brazil.

More to come on this story.

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Kevin Durant, Team USA overcome slow start to reach gold-medal game

SAITAMA, Japan — Kevin Durant and the Americans still have their grip on gold and it’s going to take more than a few bad minutes for anyone to take it away from them.

They were awful early, then awesome afterward against Australia.

Durant scored 23 points, Devin Booker had 20 and the U.S. blew past and eventually blew away the Aussies, 97-78, on Thursday (Wednesday night PT) in the Olympic men’s basketball semifinals after falling into a 15-point hole.

With their gold-medal streak looking in jeopardy midway through the second quarter, the Americans overwhelmed the Australians with a 48-14 stretch that gave them a 74-55 lead after three periods.

The U.S. missed its first 10 3-point attempts and didn’t hit one until late in the second quarter, then it felt as if the Americans hardly missed again, with Booker making three 3-pointers.

Jrue Holiday had 11 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the U.S., which will play European champion Slovenia or France in its quest for a fourth consecutive gold medal Saturday. The French beat the Americans, 83-76, in their Olympic opener.

That was part of a 2-3 start to the summer for the U.S., which included a loss to the Australians in an exhibition game in Las Vegas.

The Americans don’t look like that team anymore.

They look like the best team in the world, like those that used to win gold with ease.

Patty Mills scored 15 points for Australia, which still needs a win for its first Olympic basketball medal.

More to come on this story.

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Breanna Stewart, U.S. women crush Australia to reach Olympic semifinals

By DOUG FEINBERG AP Basketball Writer

SAITAMA, Japan — Breanna Stewart scored 20 of her 23 points in the first half to help the U.S. beat Australia, 79-55, on Wednesday (Tuesday night PT) in the Olympic quarterfinals.

The Americans will face Serbia on Friday in the semifinals looking to advance to their seventh consecutive gold medal game. The Serbians, who won the bronze medal in the 2016 Rio Games, rallied to beat China, 77-70, in their quarterfinal.

For the first time since getting together about three weeks ago, the U.S. looked like the dominant team that’s won the last six gold medals and 53 consecutive games in the Olympics dating to the 1992 Barcelona Games.

During the pool-play games, the U.S. got of to slow starts, trailing after the first quarter in each contest. Stewart made sure that wouldn’t happen against Australia. Trailing 5-2, she scored seven consecutive points to start a 19-1 run. The Americans led 26-12 after the opening quarter as Australia had 10 turnovers in the period.

Australia was able to get within nine in the second quarter before the U.S. closed the half with a 20-8 run to go ahead, 48-27.

The Opals never threatened in the second half as the lead ballooned behind Brittney Griner, who scored 10 of her 15 points in the third quarter.

The U.S. and Australia are ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the world and usually meet later in the Olympics, but the Aussies barely qualified for the quarters. They needed at least a 24-point victory over Puerto Rico in the last game of pool play to advance.

The Opals have never beaten the U.S. in the Olympics, losing to the Americans in the gold medal game in 2000, ’04 and ’08. The Australians also lost in the semifinals of the 1996 and 2012 Olympics to the U.S.

They were looking for a different outcome in Japan. The teams played in Las Vegas last month in an exhibition game and Australia pulled off the upset victory. Diana Taurasi didn’t play in that game as she was recovering from a hip injury.

Leilani Mitchell scored 14 points to lead Australia, which will host the World Championship next year in Sydney.

GIVING IT A TRY

Australia’s Stephanie Talbot, who plays for the WNBA’s Seattle Storm, played after missing the team’s last game against Puerto Rico. She only played a few minutes against China after missing the opener against Belgium because of an injured foot. She tested it out before the U.S. game and played 16 minutes, scoring four points.

CHEERING THEM ON

The Australian men’s team will face the U.S. men in the semifinals on Thursday. Most of the American men’s team arrived just before halftime to watch the women’s team play.

More to come on this story.

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Olympics: Simone Biles captures historic 7th medal in her return

TOKYO >> They stood on the edge of the competition area at the Ariake Gymnastics Center early Tuesday evening, Simone Biles and her coach Cecile Landi, awaiting the scores of the previous gymnast in the Olympic Games balance beam competition to be posted.

Landi put her right around Biles and tried to lighten the moment.

And then Biles was alone, turning to face the beam and a moment the world had waited a week for.

Biles took a deep breath.

She wasn’t alone.

Biles, seven days after she stunned these Olympics by withdrawing in the middle of the team finals, returned to the Games she has been the face of earning a bronze medal on the beam with a solid, if safe, routine.

It was the Hollywood ending her millions of fans –or NBC–might have wanted, but if nothing else Biles has reminded us this past week that life is complicated.

China’s Guan Chenchen, competing last, won the gold medal with a 14.633 score followed by teammate Tang Xijing (14.233) and Biles (14.00).

It was Biles sixth Olympic medal but her presence in Tokyo will be best remembered for her withdrawal from the team final, individual all around, and earlier apparatus finals forcing her country and her sport to have real discussions, often heated, about mental health, especially in regards to young athletes.

“It’s great that she is speaking out about these issues,” said Sweden’s Mondo Duplantis, the world record holder in the pole vault. “It can be tough as an athlete and it’s good that the issues are being raised now.”

And elevating that discussion as she has her sport will be as much of legacy as her four Olympic and 19 World Championship titles.

“I think just recognizing that it’s so hard and the mental aspect is such a big thing and having the confidence to draw the line and say you know I need to step back here and take some time for myself to center myself,” U.S. beach volleyball player April Ross said. “I think that’s really empowering and that’s something that youths should feel like they can do too, so I think what she did will really impact the future generation.”

Biles withdrawal came with the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal still looming over the sport and the Olympic movement.

Biles is a Nassar survivor and has been the highest profile and one of the most vocal critics of USA Gymnastics and its prioritize athlete safety over medals and corporate sponsorships and to fix the culture of abuse within the sport that enabled Nassar, the former Olympic and national team doctor to sexually abuse more than 500 women under the guise of medical treatment.

Biles was not only the ultimate champion in the #MeToo era, with Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and American swimmer Michael Phelps retiring after the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro she was the face of the Olympic Games.

“I live in the United States and anything that came on the TV, NBC or commercials about the Olympics it was Simone Biles,” golfer Rory McIlroy said. “I mean it was the Simone Biles Olympics, right. To have the weight of what 300 whatever million (people in the USA). So, the weight on her shoulders is massive.”

In the days and weeks leading up to Tokyo that weight became overwhelming, Biles said.

“In the back gym, coming in today, it was like fighting all those demons, ‘I have to put my pride aside, I have to do it for the team,’” Biles said on the night of her withdrawal from the team competition, referring to the Olympic practice gym. “At the end of the day, I have to do what’s right for me and focus on my mental health, and not jeopardize my health and well-being. …

“I just don’t trust myself as much as I used to. I don’t know if it’s age. I’m a little bit more nervous when I do gymnastics. I feel like I’m also not having as much fun, and I know that this Olympic Games,” she continued starting to weep, “I wanted it to be for myself.

“I was still doing it for other people, so it hurts my heart that doing what I love has been kind of taken away from me to please other people.”

The stress contributed to Biles developing spatial awareness issues when she was airborne, what gymnasts refer to as the “twisties.”

“If you struggle with disorientation in the air,” Italian gymnast Vanessa Ferrari said “it can be very scary. I feel very sorry for her that she struggles with it, as she is such a great gymnast.”

Biles had planned to do a Yurcenko 2½ vault on the opening rotation of team competition final. But only managed 1½ rotations before stumbling on the landing. She received a 13.766 score, well before her usual marks in an event in which she was the reigning the Olympic champion and a two-time World Championships gold medalist.

“I did not choose to do a one-and-a-half,” Biles said laughing. “I tried to do a two-and-a-half, and that just was not clicking. It’s very uncharacteristic of me, and it just sucks that it happened here at the Olympic Games. With the year that it’s been, I’m really not surprised how it played out.

“So it definitely wasn’t my best work.”

Returning the sideline, Biles informed her coaches and teammates she was withdrawing.

People need to understand that athletes are no robots, but humans,” said Rebeca Andrade of Brazil, who succeeded Biles as Olympic vault champion. “The decision she made was the wisest thing to do and it had nothing to do with others.”

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Olympics: Simone Biles wins bronze medal in return

TOKYO >> They stood on the edge of the competition area at the Ariake Gymnastics Center early Tuesday evening, Simone Biles and her coach Cecile Landi, awaiting the scores of the previous gymnast in the Olympic Games balance beam competition to be posted.

Landi put her right around Biles and tried to lighten the moment.

And then Biles was alone, turning to face the beam and a moment the world had waited a week for.

Biles took a deep breath.

She wasn’t alone.

Biles, seven days after she stunned these Olympics by withdrawing in the middle of the team finals, returned to the Games she has been the face of earning a bronze medal on the beam with a solid, if safe, routine.

It was the Hollywood ending her millions of fans –or NBC–might have wanted, but if nothing else Biles has reminded us this past week that life is complicated.

China’s Guan Chenchen, competing last, won the gold medal with a 14.633 score followed by teammate Tang Xijing (14.233) and Biles (14.00).

It was Biles sixth Olympic medal but her presence in Tokyo will be best remembered for her withdrawal from the team final, individual all around, and earlier apparatus finals forcing her country and her sport to have real discussions, often heated, about mental health, especially in regards to young athletes.

“It’s great that she is speaking out about these issues,” said Sweden’s Mondo Duplantis, the world record holder in the pole vault. “It can be tough as an athlete and it’s good that the issues are being raised now.”

And elevating that discussion as she has her sport will be as much of legacy as her four Olympic and 19 World Championship titles.

“I think just recognizing that it’s so hard and the mental aspect is such a big thing and having the confidence to draw the line and say you know I need to step back here and take some time for myself to center myself,” U.S. beach volleyball player April Ross said. “I think that’s really empowering and that’s something that youths should feel like they can do too, so I think what she did will really impact the future generation.”

Biles withdrawal came with the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal still looming over the sport and the Olympic movement.

Biles is a Nassar survivor and has been the highest profile and one of the most vocal critics of USA Gymnastics and its prioritize athlete safety over medals and corporate sponsorships and to fix the culture of abuse within the sport that enabled Nassar, the former Olympic and national team doctor to sexually abuse more than 500 women under the guise of medical treatment.

Biles was not only the ultimate champion in the #MeToo era, with Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and American swimmer Michael Phelps retiring after the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro she was the face of the Olympic Games.

“I live in the United States and anything that came on the TV, NBC or commercials about the Olympics it was Simone Biles,” golfer Rory McIlroy said. “I mean it was the Simone Biles Olympics, right. To have the weight of what 300 whatever million (people in the USA). So, the weight on her shoulders is massive.”

In the days and weeks leading up to Tokyo that weight became overwhelming, Biles said.

“In the back gym, coming in today, it was like fighting all those demons, ‘I have to put my pride aside, I have to do it for the team,’” Biles said on the night of her withdrawal from the team competition, referring to the Olympic practice gym. “At the end of the day, I have to do what’s right for me and focus on my mental health, and not jeopardize my health and well-being. …

“I just don’t trust myself as much as I used to. I don’t know if it’s age. I’m a little bit more nervous when I do gymnastics. I feel like I’m also not having as much fun, and I know that this Olympic Games,” she continued starting to weep, “I wanted it to be for myself.

“I was still doing it for other people, so it hurts my heart that doing what I love has been kind of taken away from me to please other people.”

The stress contributed to Biles developing spatial awareness issues when she was airborne, what gymnasts refer to as the “twisties.”

“If you struggle with disorientation in the air,” Italian gymnast Vanessa Ferrari said “it can be very scary. I feel very sorry for her that she struggles with it, as she is such a great gymnast.”

Biles had planned to do a Yurcenko 2½ vault on the opening rotation of team competition final. But only managed 1½ rotations before stumbling on the landing. She received a 13.766 score, well before her usual marks in an event in which she was the reigning the Olympic champion and a two-time World Championships gold medalist.

“I did not choose to do a one-and-a-half,” Biles said laughing. “I tried to do a two-and-a-half, and that just was not clicking. It’s very uncharacteristic of me, and it just sucks that it happened here at the Olympic Games. With the year that it’s been, I’m really not surprised how it played out.

“So it definitely wasn’t my best work.”

Returning the sideline, Biles informed her coaches and teammates she was withdrawing.

People need to understand that athletes are no robots, but humans,” said Rebeca Andrade of Brazil, who succeeded Biles as Olympic vault champion. “The decision she made was the wisest thing to do and it had nothing to do with others.”

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Olympics: USA gymnast Simone Biles to return for balance beam finals

TOKYO (AP) — Simone Biles is returning to competition in Tokyo.

The 2016 Olympic champion will compete in the balance beam finals on Tuesday, a little over a week after stepping away from the meet to focus on her mental health.

“We are so excited to confirm that you will see two U.S. athletes in the balance beam final tomorrow — Suni Lee AND Simone Biles!! Can’t wait to watch you both!” USA Gymnastics said in a statement.

The 24-year-old Biles won bronze on beam in Rio de Janeiro five years ago and qualified for the eight-woman final at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre on the first weekend of the Games.

She removed herself from the team final on July 27 after a shaky performance on vault during the first rotation. She watched from the sidelines as her three American teammates completed the meet without her; the U.S. took silver behind the team known as the Russian Olympic Committee.

Biles later said she was dealing with issues surrounding air awareness, referred to as “the twisties” in her sport.

Biles qualified for all five individual event finals but took herself out of four of them: the all-around, vault, floor exercise and uneven bars. Lee earned the gold in the all-around, becoming the fifth straight American to claim the sport’s marquee title.

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A’ja Wilson leads U.S. women’s basketball past France, into Olympic quarterfinals

BY DOUG FEINBERG AP Basketball Writer

SAITAMA, Japan — A’ja Wilson scored 22 points and Breanna Stewart added 17 to help the U.S. beat France, 93-82, on Monday (Sunday night PT).

The win was the 52nd in a row for the U.S. dating to the bronze medal game of the 1992 Olympics. The U.S. went undefeated in group play – albeit not in the dominant fashion the team is used to – and advanced to the quarterfinals. The Americans (3-0) haven’t lost a game in group play since women’s basketball was added to the Olympics in 1976.

“It wasn’t a must-win, but we always want to win,” Stewart said. “To have that momentum going into the quarterfinals, this is where we start to peak.”

Even with the loss, France (1-2) advanced to the quarterfinals because of point differential with the other third-place teams. The team had to lose by 14 points or less to advance.

“We were completely aware,” Gabby Williams said of the margin France needed to advance. “It was 10 minutes by 10 minutes and trying to focus on staying with them. I think that was the goal.”

Both teams will find out later Monday night who they will play in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

France scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to take a 72-71 lead before the U.S. answered with 12 of the next 14 points to go up 83-74 with 5:45 left. Wilson had six points during the run.

Tina Charles’ 3-pointer made it 87-77, giving the U.S. its first double-digit lead of the game. France could get no closer than seven the rest of the way.

“We knew France had their backs against the wall,” Stewart said. “They had to play their best today and play within a certain margin to advance. We talked about it here and there. It’s super complicated. Most important thing for us was to win.”

Endene Miyem scored 15 to lead France.

The U.S. led 11-2 before France scored 16 of the next 18 points to go up 18-13. The French team led 22-19 after one quarter – the third consecutive game that the Americans trailed after the first 10 minutes. The U.S. got a scare in the first quarter when Taurasi left the game holding her right wrist. She was examined by the trainer and sat on the bench for the remainder of the quarter before returning with 4:20 left in the second period.

The lead exchanged hands for most of the second quarter as the U.S. continued to pound the ball inside to its dominant bigs of Wilson, Brittney Griner, Sylvia Fowles and Charles.

The Americans led 50-44 at the half.

TIP-INS

The U.S. has now beaten France in each of the past three Olympics. … Diggins, who turned 31 on Monday, returned to the court after she missed the last game after was banged up in practice. Diggins had three points. … The U.S. came into the game averaging a tournament-worst 21 turnovers per game. The team committed just 12 against France.

EXPERIENCED AMERICANS

A lot of attention has been on Sue Bird and Taurasi going for a fifth Olympic gold medal. Fowles is playing in her fourth Olympics. She is tied with Griner for third on the U.S. Olympic blocked shot list with 13, one behind longtime L.A. Spark Candace Parker. Lisa Leslie (Morningside High, USC, Sparks) is the all-time leader with 37 blocks.

🆚🇳🇬: 19 PTS | 60 FG% | 13 REB
🆚 🇯🇵: 20 PTS | 60 FG% | 10 REB
🆚 🇫🇷: 22 PTS | 75 FG% | 7 REB

🇺🇸 @_ajawilson22 has been unguardable in her Olympic debut 😤#Tokyo2020 #Basketball pic.twitter.com/RqU3rzzgew

— FIBA #Tokyo2020 (@FIBA) August 2, 2021

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