US women’s basketball battles way to Olympic quarterfinals against tough France squad

Little has come easy for the U.S. women’s basketball team this Olympics, but the Americans are nonetheless through to the quarterfinals.

Team USA edged France, 93-82, in a hard fought match on Monday, marking the nation’s 52nd consecutive win.

The French made a serious bid at upending that historic streak and handing the U.S. its first Olympic loss since 1992. After a back-and-forth initial three quarters, France scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to take a shocking 72-71 lead.

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The U.S. managed to rebound, outscoring France 22-11 the rest of the way.

In besting the French, the Americans concluded a 3-0 group play slate that included competitive victories over France, Nigeria and Japan. The U.S. has yet to lose a group play game since 1976, the first year women’s basketball was an Olympic sport.

“Does everyone want us to come out and blow everybody out? Some people do and feel like that is supposed to happen,” U.S. coach Dawn Staley said after the game. “For us, we’ve known we’re in a dogfight every time we step on the floor. If you just do a little research, you’ll know this is how it’s supposed to be. It’s uncomfortable for us, it’s uncomfortable for the people that are watching because we’re not blowing teams out, but it’s great for those who turn the television on and watch.”

France's Valeriane Vukosavljevic goes to the basket past USA's Sylvia Fowles.
France’s Valeriane Vukosavljevic goes to the basket past USA’s Sylvia Fowles.
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The U.S. will next play in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, against an opponent to be determined.

“Each team is like a new puzzle so we’re constantly gaining information,” star point guard Sue Bird said. “These teams have all caused us to adjust and adapt, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that.”

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