US rolls to women’s hoops gold medal in Bird’s last Olympics

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Sue Chicken and Diana Taurasi walked off the basketball courtroom collectively, arm-in-arm, one final time on the Tokyo Video games.

They began their journey collectively 5 Olympics in the past and ended it in the identical trend as at all times — with gold medals hanging round their necks.

“All of what we’ve finished for USA Basketball, we’ve finished collectively. It’s becoming,” Chicken stated after the 90-75 win over Japan on Sunday.

And now it is over — no less than for the 40-year-old Chicken.

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“The very best comparability is faculty since you recognize it’s the tip,” Chicken stated. “Now I at all times have a beautiful feeling and an ideal style in my mouth my senior yr. That’s how it’s with USA Basketball.”

All she and Taurasi have finished on the worldwide stage is win and now the pair stands alone with 5 gold medals — the primary basketball gamers ever to perform that feat.

“It’s 20 years and other people solely get to see these moments,” Taurasi stated. “We’re on these journeys on daily basis collectively. each dialog. this implies quite a bit to us.”

Whereas Chicken is retiring from worldwide basketball, Taurasi left the door open after the sport in her on-court interview that she’ll play in Paris in 2024.

She is not truly sure she’ll play, saying: “We’ll see.”

However, Chicken threw a fast jab at her 39-year-old good friend for even contemplating it.

“Hahaha, fool,” Chicken stated laughing whereas standing subsequent to Taurasi and speaking with The Related Press.

The U.S. has now gained the final seven Olympic gold medals matching the nation’s males’s program for probably the most ever in a row. The boys did it from 1936-68.

With Chicken orchestrating the stream of video games and Taurasi’s scoring, they’ve been a continuing drive for the U.S., offering stability for the ladies’s program because the 2004 Athens Video games. They’ve gained all 38 of the video games on the Olympics they’ve competed in.

The names have modified across the pair, together with greats Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes, Tina Thompson, Tamika Catchings and Sylvia Fowles, however the outcomes haven’t.

The Individuals are on a 55-game Olympic successful streak relationship again to the bronze medal sport of the 1992 Barcelona Video games.

The U.S. let Japan know that wasn’t going to vary on Sunday.

The Individuals jumped out to a 18-5 lead behind a dominant first quarter by Brittney Griner. The workforce lead 23-14 after one as Griner had 10 factors, profiting from the undersized Japanese workforce. Japan was capable of get inside six within the second quarter earlier than the Individuals went up 11 on the half and by no means seemed again.

As the ultimate buzzer sounded, Chicken and Taurasi embraced after which proceeded to hug all of their teammates and the teaching workers.

Griner completed with 30 factors, making 14 of her 18 photographs. It was probably the most factors ever by a U.S. participant in a gold medal sport, surpassing the 29 by Leslie in 1996.

Whereas Chicken has stated she is transferring on, the longer term is brilliant for the U.S. behind Griner, Breanna Stewart and the six newcomers on this yr’s workforce. That included A’ja Wilson, who will probably be counted on to maintain the streak going three years from now on the 2024 Paris Video games. Wilson, who celebrated her 25th birthday on Sunday, made her presence felt in her Olympic debut, scoring 19 factors within the gold medal sport.

However there have been different milestones of word Sunday moreover Chicken’s farewell.

The victory additionally made Daybreak Staley, the primary Black girls’s basketball coach for the U.S., the second girl to win a gold medal as a participant, assistant and head coach becoming a member of Anne Donovan. Staley stated after the sport that she will not come again to educate in Paris.

Staley stated being a part of six Olympics is sufficient for her, “I am full.”

The sport additionally marked the tip of Carol Callan’s run because the nationwide workforce director. She began proper earlier than the Individuals gained the primary gold of this streak in 1996 and has been the architect for this unprecedented run.

Japan, which was the one one of many 11 different groups to ever have crushed the U.S. in an Olympics, gained a medal for the primary time within the nation’s historical past. The workforce’s greatest end earlier than Sunday was fifth.

The host nation has been on the rise because it employed coach Tom Hovasse. He stated when he bought the job four half years in the past that his workforce can be enjoying towards the U.S. for the gold on the Tokyo Video games — and would beat them.

He was half proper.

The groups met in preliminary pool play and the U.S. gained by 17 factors after trailing by two after the primary quarter. Identical to that sport, the Individuals used their dominant publish benefit to regulate the title sport. Japan’s greatest participant was 6-foot-1 — no match for the imposing entrance line led by Griner, who’s 6-9.

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Whereas most people and relations could not attend the video games due to the coronavirus pandemic, Chicken did have fiancee Megan Rapinoe within the stands cheering her on. Chicken came visiting and embraced Rapinoe after the sport. She helped the U.S. girls’s soccer workforce win a bronze medal earlier this week, scoring two targets in that sport.

A big contingent of Japanese volunteers, who had been within the Saitama Tremendous Area for your entire event sat and applauded their workforce. No precise cheering was allowed due to the coronavirus pandemic.



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