Olympics 2012: U.S. women beat Czechs 88-61

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The Americans led 48-38 at the half and put the game away with a 20-3 run to start the second half. Taurasi hit two 3-pointers during the spurt.

The Czechs couldn’t get within 20 points of the U.S. the rest of the way.

“Throughout the whole game I think our defensive intensity picked up,” Catchings said. “The third quarter was probably one of the best third quarters we’ve had since we’ve been playing together. Now we’ve just got it going in the first half, start the game off that way.”

Michaela Zrustova scored 15 points to lead the Czech Republic.

“Very tough game,” said Eva Viteckova, who finished with 12 points. “Our main problems was the rebounding, they had 22 more rebounds than us (actually 23). They also have a very good fast break.

“It’s always very difficult to play against the Americans, we know we can never be winners against them, they are so much better. But we started very well and maybe they were surprised by our performances.

“They can be beaten, if the other team has a very good day and they (the U.S.) has a very bad day.”

While the U.S. has already clinched a spot in the quarterfinals, the Czechs (1-2) still are trying to advance.

They made a surprising run to the silver medal at the worlds, knocking off defending champion Australia in the quarterfinals before losing to the U.S. in the title game. The Czech Republic was definitely buoyed in that tournament by its home crowd that included President Vaclav Klaus for the championship game.

The Americans will close out pool play Sunday against China, which was routed by Turkey 82-55.

Also Friday, Australia’s Liz Cambage had the play of the day — maybe of the Olympic women’s basketballtournament when she dunked in the Aussies’ 70-66 win over Russia. Canada advanced to the quarterfinals with a 79-73 victory over Brazil. Croatia routed Angola 75-56; and France edged Britain 80-77 in overtime.

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