Team USA captain Sue Bird missed Thursday’s semifinal because of a right knee injury, but that did not much matter for the U.S., which advanced to Saturday’s gold-medal game with a 86-67 victory over France on Thursday.
Maya Moore added 15 points for the U.S., which led, 40-36, at halftime. The Americans turned up the defensive intensity out of the locker room and outscored France 25-8 in the third quarter to put the game out of reach.
Bird is day-to-day after suffering a right knee capsule sprain in Team USA’s quarterfinal victory over Japan on Tuesday. She was cheering on the bench with every U.S. run. Bird said she was relieved that her injury was only a knee capsule sprain – a positive prognosis for long-term recovery – but she did not know whether she would be available Saturday.
“I don’t think you get to where any of us are without being smart,” Bird said. “I’m not going to be stupid about this. This is your body. You have to listen to it. You don’t want to put yourself in danger, but if I can play, I’m definitely playing.”
The U.S. had cruised through its first six games, winning by nearly 42 points a game and scoring at a record pace. Without Bird, the Americans looked discombobulated at times on offense against France. The team that was averaging 105 points and 30 assists was held to just 40 points in the opening 20 minutes and just four assists.
Coach Geno Auriemma said Bird would test the injury at practice Friday.
Spain defeated Serbia, 68-54, in the other semifinal Thursday.
France will play Serbia for bronze.
Women’s volleyball: Injured U.S. star Foluke Akinradewo could only watch as the Americans fought back to force a fifth set against Serbia before falling short. Serbia’s win is the biggest in the program’s history, reaching the championship and guaranteeing the country’s first women’s volleyball medal after a 20-25, 25-17, 25-21, 16-25, 15-13 victory against the top-ranked Americans.
Women’s relay: Tianna Bartoletta nestled into the starting blocks in Lane 2 for the U.S. women’s 4x100 relay team’s rerun – on their own and against the clock only – after they fumbled the baton in their original qualifier, but got another chance following a protest. With just the clock and the crowd for company, they took the baton around in 41.77 seconds to knock slowest-qualifier China out the final.
Women’s golf: Stacy Lewis made 11 birdies to match the low score at Olympic Golf Course with an 8-under 63, putting her right in the mix for a gold medal in women’s golf. The American had no complaints about her golf or her position at the halfway point of the first Olympic women’s golf competition since 1900. Lewis was one shot behind Inbee Park of South Korea, who birdied her last two holes for another 5-under 66 and the 36-hole lead.
Suspensions: It was a busy day for doping suspensions. Doping officials announced that a weightlifter from Kyrgyzstan, a swimmer from China, a cyclist from Brazil and a canoeist from Moldova all tested positive for drugs. The weightlifter was taking strychnine, best known for its use as rat poison. Athletes use it in small doses to boost muscle recovery.
Women’s taekwondo: Britain’s defending Olympic taekwondo champion Jade Jones has hung onto her title after defeating Spain’s Eva Calvo Gomez in the final of the women’s 57-kilogram division. Top-ranked Jones used an almost continual stream of aggressive attacks that Gomez was unable to counter. Jones won 16-7. Jones scored two head kicks within seconds of each other during the first round for an early lead that she never relinquished.
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