July 11, 2015

Team USA survives with tough win over Japan

Team USA beat Japan 102-98 in the semifinals today, but it took them two overtime periods to do it.

The USA had a great height advantage, but Japan was quicker and shot better.

Japan got off to a very quick start and shot the lights out in the first quarter. They sank four three-pointers, out-shot the USA 63% to 35% and out-rebounded them 12-8. Japan was ahead by as much as 16 points and led 20-16 at the end of the quarter.

The USA used a zone defense to slow down Japan's shooting in the second quarter and cut the lead in half, to 43-36.

The USA came out fighting after the break. They tied the score twice in the third quarter, but Japan kept coming back and still led 58-57.

The two teams traded the lead thoughout the fourth quarter. The USA was ahead by five with four minutes left to play, but Japan tied the score three more times, and the game went into overtime, 77-77.

The USA held a small lead throughout the first overtime period until Japan tied the score at 86-86 with 25 seconds on the clock. On its possession, the USA missed three shots in highly-contested play under the basket, which ended with Erica being fouled. She missed both free throws.

The second overtime period began with a jump shot and then a block by Erica. The USA crept ahead to an eight-point lead with a 42 seconds left to play, and victory seemed in sight. But Japan wasn't finished yet — jumper, steal, jumper, free throw — and it was a one-possession game with 27 seconds left.

Japan fouled Erica, who made both free throws, then sank its eighth 3-pointer of the day to cut the lead to two. Courtney Williams was fouled and made both free throws. With two seconds left to play, Aerial Powers stole the ball, and that was finally the end: USA 102, Japan 98.

Mercedes Russell was the top scorer with 25 points, followed by Aerial Powers with 24, then Erica with 19 on seven of 12 field goals and five of ten free throws.

The USA ended with 63 rebounds to Japan's 39. Mercedes and Aerial each grabbed 14, Erica had 11.

Here are the final statistics and the USA Basketball game recap.

Canada defeated Russia 70-60 in the other semifinal game. So the gold medal game on Monday, July 13 at 2:00 am PT will be USA vs Canada.The game will be televised on ESPNU.

Seven Pac-12 players will be present. The Canadian team includes Quinn Dornstauder (Arizona State) and Ruth Hamblin (Oregon State).

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