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US women’s basketball team rolls on after routing Turkey

By K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune –

LONDON — Most everything the U.S. women’s basketball team does gets measured against its past success.

Such is the price when you possess a 36-game winning streak dating to 1992 and are vying for a fifth consecutive gold medal.

So after the U.S. easily dispatched Turkey, 89-58, to improve to 3-0 in pool play Wednesday night at Basketball Arena, the margin of victory got dissected and analyzed like some lab experiment. After all, only 10 days ago, the U.S. never led by more than eight through the first three quarters before pulling away to win by 19 in an exhibition between these teams.

“What happened in the past is in the past,” forward Maya Moore said. “We’re proud of the streak. We’ve made mistakes in international play. But we were able to fix them before the Olympics rolled around. We want to win every game.”

Defend like the U.S. did against Turkey, and that seems likely. With LeBron James looking on to head a healthy contingent from the men’s team, the U.S. scored 19 points off 16 turnovers and limited Turkey to 32 percent shooting.

In leading by 15 at halftime, the U.S. repeatedly got out in transition and finished with three-pointers from Sue Bird or lay-ins from Angel McCoughtry, who scored a team-high 18 points.

“A lot of our offense has to be generated from our defense,” U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said. “There were a lot of stretches where our defense caught up to them and got there ahead of them sometimes. And that’s this team’s best quality is getting out in transition.”

Turkey, led by 11 points each from Birsel Vardarli and Kuanitra Holingsvorth, used its diverse offensive look of ball movement, screening and shooting to pull within 50-45 in the third. But Lindsay Whalen ignited a 13-2 run to close the quarter with six of her 14 points.

“Lindsay is kind of the captain of the commandos that come in the latter part of the first and third quarters and change the tempo of the game,” Auriemma said. “And I thought Angel was the difference in the game, without question.”

McCoughtry, who added seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks, just shrugged.

“That’s my role,” she said. “The whole second group has brought the energy. That’s what makes our team so special; when (Auriemma) subs, we don’t lose anything.”

Including a long win streak.

In other games Wednesday, in the U.S. team’s group, China beat Angola, 76-52; and the Czech Republic beat Croatia, 89-70. In the other group, France beat Canada, 64-60; Australia beat Brazil, 67-61; and Russia beat Britain, 67-61.

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