After three straight blowouts, it took a half for the U.S. women's basketball team to get going and beat Spain.
Tina Thompson scored nine of her 17 points during the decisive third quarter run and Lisa Leslie added 14 points and 11 rebounds to help the U.S. top Spain 93-55 today.
"Spain came out and played really hard. You have to give them credit," Thompson said. "It was a matter that our defense controls so much of what our offense does."
The Americans had won their first three games by an average of 47 points, putting the game away by the half in all the victories. Today, the Americans led by just five at halftime, 39-34, and for the game they turned the ball over a tournament-high 19 times.
"Spain's a good team, they came out really well in the first half," said Diana Taurasi, who had 12 points for the U.S. "In the second half we came out defensively and took care of what we had to."
After a sloppy first half that saw the U.S. have 11 turnovers, the Americans opened the third quarter with a 20-5 run to take control of the game. The U.S. scored the first nine points of the period, including three by Thompson from the foul line when she was fouled hard by Ana Montanana, who was called for a technical foul &
the first of the entire Olympics.
"I don't even remember what happened," Thompson said. "Stuff like that happens during a game when both teams are playing physical. You just step up hit your free throws and move on."
Tamika Catchings' putback with 2:53 left in the period gave the U.S. a 59-39 advantage. Spain closed within 16 to start the fourth quarter before the Americans went on a 13-0 run to put the game away.
Candace Parker added 13 points and Diana Taurasi had 12 for the U.S. (4-0). The Americans will close out pool play on Sunday against New Zealand.
Amaya Valdemoro led Spain (2-2) with 17 points.
The U.S. got a brief scare when Leslie left early in the period with a slight hip injury. She was stretched on the sidelines by team trainer Ed Ryan before returning later in the period.
"My hip kind of jammed on me," Leslie said. "I had to get a little treatment on the side, but once it got warm I was okay."
With the win, the U.S. has 29 straight victories in Olympic contests. The last loss was to the Unified team in the 1992 semifinals.
The game looked to be another blowout at the start with the Americans jumping out to a 19-4 lead in the first quarter as they held Spain scoreless for nearly 7:30 minutes. However, Spain wouldn't go away, closing the period with a 13-3 spurt of its own, hitting four 3-pointers. Montanana's 3-pointer at the buzzer closed the gap to 22-17.
"For us this was a good game. It's what we wanted to have," U.S. coach Anne Donovan said. "It was great when Spain made their run and at the end of the first half, we're sitting there with a five-point lead, to see how we're going to respond in that situation.
"The experience we have, along with the young talent we have, was a good combination in the second half."
Spain will finish its pool play on Sunday against Mali.
In other games Friday, Australia topped Latvia 96-73, Russia edged Brazil 74-64, the Czech Republic beat New Zealand 90-59, and China routed Mali 69-48.
Thompson leads U.S. past Spain