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Team USA’s brilliant tournament play continued against Japan on Tuesday, ending in a 46-point victory for the Americans. The Japanese managed to hang in against the U.S., entering the second half down just 10 points, but Team USA locked down their opponent in a dominant second-half performance, allowing just seven made field goals.
A rare black cloud rose over the Americans in that game, as veteran guard Sue Bird left the game and never returned thanks to a knee injury she suffered in the second quarter. Team USA has more than enough talent to overcome the loss of Bird if she can’t go, but her steady hand is always a welcome presence on the perimeter.
The age of America’s team showed against Japan, as their undersized opponent pushed the pace and forced the Americans out of their comfort zone. USA’s brilliant passing and teamwork — on display when they set an Olympic record for assists in their final group game against China — was thrown out of whack by the game’s herky-jerky style. Team USA will be happy to face a more conventional French team in the semifinal.
France doesn’t figure to pose a major threat to America’s reign at the top of women’s basketball. The only common opponent between the two teams is Japan, and France’s eight-point loss measured against America’s blowout victory says a lot about the gap between Team USA and everyone else in this tournament.
Bird’s knee issue aside, the Rio Olympics have lined up almost perfectly for Team USA. With America’s top threat for a gold medal already eliminated, the USWNT should coast to top honors once again.
USA vs. France live
Time: 4:00 p.m. ET
Streaming: NBC Sports