Silver medal still tastes sweet for Spain’s basketball team
Spain lost this evening’s final to USA 72-101 but enter the history books by winning the first Olympic medal for Spanish women’s basketball.
The United States women's basketball team captured its sixth consecutive Olympic gold medal and eighth in nine Games on Sunday with an overwhelming 101-72 victory over Spain in the final.
The Americans stretched their Olympic win streak to 49 games since a 1992 semi-final loss and improved to 89-1 over the past 20 years in global tournaments. Diana Taurasi and Lindsay Whalen led the US squad with 17 points each while Maya Moore added 14 points.
US stars Taurasi, Tamika Catchings and Sue Bird matched an Olympic basketball record with their fourth gold medals each, tying level with ex-US standouts Lisa Leslie and Teresa Edwards for the most golds by any player, male or female.
Spain's silver is the first Olympic women's basketball medal secured by any Spanish women’s team - their best prior showing was fifth in 1992 and 2008.
The championship game was a rematch of the 2014 Women's Basketball World Cup final won by the Americans 77-64, but it more resembled the US women's 103-63 rout of Spain in a Rio group stage encounter as the US women improved to 10-0 all-time against their European rivals.
Alba Torrens, who led Spain with 18 points, scored 10 in the first eight minutes to give her team its largest lead at 17-14. The Americans answered with a 10-0 run for a 24-17 edge on a 3-pointer from Bird, back from a right knee injury. Astou Ndour's 3-pointer pulled Spain within 27-24 but the US responded with a 14-2 run for a 41-26 edge. Taurasi made two 3-pointers in the spurt and Moore and Breanna Stewart each added four points.
Whalen sank a fast break layup at the half-time buzzer to give the Americans their largest lead yet at 49-32 and Spain never trailed by less again. The US went on a 21-4 run in the third quarter but Spain's Silvia Domínguez sank a half-court 3-pointer at the buzzer for the biggest roar of the period, even if the US still led 81-49.
At the finish, the Americans shook hands with the Spanish rivals then huddled together on the court to celebrate. Serbia meanwhile, defeated France for the bronze medal.