Wilson leads US to quarters with 93-82 win over France

Aug 1, 2021, 11:23 AM | Updated: Aug 2, 2021, 1:24 am

SAITAMA, Japan (AP) — The U.S. can do something no other women’s basketball team can at the Tokyo Games: bring former WNBA MVPs Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles off the bench.

The Americans’ depth in the post continues to be the difference for the U.S.

“We know that’s the strength of our team at the moment, and we try to keep them as much as possible,” U.S. coach Dawn Staley said. “And fortunately for us, they’ve delivered.”

Charles and Fowles answered the call Monday when the U.S. needed them in a 93-82 win over France. Charles scored eight of her 15 points in the fourth quarter, including two 3-pointers after the U.S. trailed 72-71 early in the period.

“That was just preparation and opportunity,” Charles said of her big fourth quarter. “Just doing what we needed.”

A’ja Wilson scored 22 points and Breanna Stewart added 17 as the Americans (3-0) outscored France 46-30 in the paint — and finish pool play 3-0. Fowles made her presence felt inside, finishing with nine points, including going 5-for-5 at the free throw line. The win was the 52nd in a row for the U.S. dating back to the bronze medal game of the 1992 Olympics.

The U.S. advanced to the quarterfinals unbeaten — albeit not in the dominant fashion the team is used to. The Americans 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,” said Stewart, who also had seven rebounds and seven assists. “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,” said Gabby Williams 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.

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.

BUMPS AND BRUISES

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.

While Taurasi was being attended to, the French team led 22-19 after one quarter — the third consecutive game that the Americans trailed after the first 10 minutes.

STARRING FOR FRANCE

Williams was playing in her first Olympics for France and did well against some of her former UConn teammates. She had six steals and five rebounds to go along with 10 points, Williams’ mother is French that allowed her to play with the French national team.

CONNECTING FROM DEEP

Charles hit the first three 3-pointers of her Olympic career. She’s improved her 3-point shooting during the WNBA season this year, making 37% from behind the arc.

“I’m just thankful that Dawn just allows us to be ourselves while we’re on this team,” Charles said.

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 a 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 games.

___

More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

AP source: Mets, Quintana agree to $26 million, 2-year deal

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The New York Mets and José Quintana agreed to a $26 million, two-year contract on Wednesday, adding another veteran arm to the team’s rotation. A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the move to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal was pending a physical. New York has […]
1 day ago
In this February 2020 photo provided by University of California San Diego is men's rowing coach Ge...
Associated Press

Emboldened athletes push back on old-school coaching methods

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Some of Geoff Bond’s rowers loved and appreciated his demanding style. They thrived on how the coach at the University of California-San Diego pushed them to the limit while preparing them to take on the real world. But for others, Bond was a nightmare, with over-the-top intensity, an unpredictable temper and […]
1 day ago
In this February 2020 photo provided by University of California San Diego is men's rowing coach Ge...
Associated Press

Emboldened athletes push back on old-school coaching methods

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Some of Geoff Bond’s rowers loved and appreciated his demanding style. They thrived on how the coach at the University of California-San Diego pushed them to the limit while preparing them to take on the real world. But for others, Bond was a nightmare, with over-the-top intensity, an unpredictable temper and […]
1 day ago
New York Yankees' Aaron Judge watches his solo home run ball during the second inning of Game 5 of ...
Associated Press

AP source: Aaron Judge, Yankees reach $360M, 9-year deal

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Aaron Judge has issued his ruling: Court remains in session in the Bronx. Judge is staying with the New York Yankees on a $360 million, nine-year contract, according to a person familiar with baseball’s biggest free agent deal ever. The person spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of […]
1 day ago
Belgium's Eden Hazard reacts at the end of the World Cup group F soccer match between Croatia and B...
Associated Press

Belgium forward Hazard retires from international soccer

BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgium forward Eden Hazard retired from international soccer on Wednesday, nearly a week after his country’s aging generation of players was eliminated from the World Cup. The 31-year-old winger made his debut with the national team in 2008 at the age of 17. He made 126 appearances and scored 33 goals. “A […]
1 day ago
Orlando Magic's Paolo Banchero (5) looks to get around Milwaukee Bucks' Jrue Holiday, left, during ...
Associated Press

Paolo’s Diary: Magic rookie says he’s doing much learning

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Orlando Magic rookie and No. 1 overall draft pick Paolo Banchero is doing a periodic diary with The Associated Press this season to chronicle his first year in the NBA. This is his second installment, the first since the regular season started. The Magic are an NBA-worst 5-20 through the first 25 […]
1 day ago
Wilson leads US to quarters with 93-82 win over France