With most observers, including yours truly, thinking this should be an easy win for USA, Australia came out and had their best half of the tournament, while USA had their worst one. Liz Cambage came out and scored at will, making 8 of 12 field goals she attempted. Up until now USA were able to hide their bad defensive play with a strong offensive display, but that wasn’t the case in the first half either as USA had one of their worst offensive halfs of the tournament.
In the second half USA applied a bit more pressure on both Cambage and the Australian wings which resulted in Cambage attempting just one shot in the whole second half – a three pointer at the end of shot clock that was short. Without Cambage who usually takes high % shots, Australia followed up their 20/33 FG (60%) first half with a 9/34 FG (26%) second one. USA meanwhile maintained their offensive output which resulted with a double digit win for the defending champions.
Australia – USA 73-86
Australia: Cambage 19, Jackson 14 (17 reb), Harrower 12, O’Hea 10
USA: Taurasi 14, Charles 14 (10 reb), Bird 13, Moore 9
Arteshina, Vieru and Zhedik won the Boris Sokolovsky lottery he apparently uses to determine who starts each game, as Russia continued their trend to change starting lineups. There has been no apparent method to his madness. Two of his starters played 9 minutes each. With the Russian NT not playing as a unit, France took the lead early with an 8-0 run to start the game and never gave it back. Russia could get only as close as three points couple of times in the third quarter. Edwige Lawson-Wade was deathly from behind the arc for the French as she made all 4 3p shots, Celine Dumerc was 3/5. With their usual Achilles heel – long distance shooting – not being an issue there weren’t much if any hope for Russia in this semi, even in the third quarter where Russia closed the gap.
Despite the games the finalists played today, it still feels very unlikely that France will pose any threat to USA in the final. This very likely was their most complete game of the tournament. Odds are there will be an emotional dropoff after the semifinal. On the other hand there shouldn’t be any pressure on the French on Saturday, so maybe Sandrine Gruda can finally have her best game of the disappointing tournament and she can light up Candace Parker who hasn’t been particularly good on defense.
Russia – France 64-81
Russia: Danilochkina 13, Hammon 13, Kuzina 8
France: Lawson-Wade 18, Gomis 15, Gruda 11, Dumerc 11, Miyem 10, Yacoubou 10
Finals will be played on Saturday: Bronze medal game will be at 5PM local time, while the gold medal game will be at 9 PM local time.