LOCALS IN LONDON
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LONDON — More offensive fireworks were on display at the basketball venue — this time courtesy of the U.S. women.
The Americans tied their Olympic scoring mark in a 114-66 rout of China on Sunday and set couple of other U.S. records along the way.
Just days after the U.S. men shattered the Olympic records for points in a game, the women put on their own show.
"We've got a lot of good offensive players," said U.S. coach Geno Auriemma. "When everything is clicking and their in sync and the ball's moving like it was today, we're a fun team to watch and hopefully everyone who was watching enjoyed it."
Diana Taurasi scored 22 as the women matched the 114 points they scored against Spain in 1992, and fell well short of the women's Olympic mark of 128 points set by Brazil in 2004.
The band of All-Stars also set American Olympic records with 33 assists that led to another team milestone of 52 baskets.
"This team takes tremendous pride in sharing the ball and we got good passers and finishers," he said. "It's a great testament to them and how much they are more interested in winning instead of who credits about scoring the most points."
Six players scored in double figures and 10 of the 12 had an assist.
"This team is so unselfish," said Tamika Catchings, who led the U.S. with seven assists. "It becomes contagious."
China was able to hang with the U.S. for a quarter behind its own hot shooting before the Americans turned the game into a blowout with a huge second quarter run.
The victory was the Americans' 38th-straight in Olympic play and gave them the top seed in the group for the quarterfinals. The U.S. will meet its northern neighbor Canada on Tuesday.
The other quarterfinal matchups will be undefeated France against the Czech Republic; Australia plays China; and Russia will meet Turkey.
The Americans (5-0) haven't lost a game in the preliminary round since 1976 — the first time that women's basketball was played in the Olympics.
China got the scoring started early, hitting 10 of its first 15 shots. China led 28-25 with 1:25 left in the first quarter after Song Xiaoyun hit a deep 3-pointer from way behind the top of the key.
But then the Americans took over and took off, turning up their defensive pressure.
The four-time defending gold medalists went on a 29-6 run over the next 9 minutes to take control of the game.
Taurasi started the spurt with a layup and Angel McCoughtry converted two turnovers into easy lay-ins to end the first quarter.
The U.S. kept the burst going in the second period getting layup after layup off turnovers. The defensive pressure was relentless.
On one play, Taurasi stole the ball at halfcourt and while diving out of bounds to save it, flipped it ahead to Lindsay Whalen for two points drawing a loud cheer from the crowd.
Taurasi hit two more 3s during the spurt — her second made it 52-34 with 3:27 left in the half. The Americans led 61-36 at the break.
Sylvia Fowles played for the first time after missing the last three games to rest a sore left foot. She started the second quarter and made an immediate impact with four points and one massive block in just four minutes.
"It felt great to be back out there playing," Fowles said. "This game was a lot of fun to play in."
The U.S. men scored a 156 points against Nigeria on Thursday, surpassing the century-mark midway through the third quarter in the blowout. There wasn't suspense in the second half of the women's game either, except for how many team records the Americans could break.
They took down their assist mark 3 minutes into the fourth quarter on Whalen's pass to Swin Cash that gave the U.S. 100 points.
The Americans tied the scoring record on Seimone Augustus' foul-line jumper with under a minute to play. And by the end of the game, they had also broken the American record for field goals made.
"Sometimes you play a game things are off a little bit off and today, even in the first quarter when they hung in there and were playing really well, I felt like we were playing a little better, in a little bit better of a flow and that carried on through the 40 minutes," Taurasi said.
The U.S. improved to 6-0 all-time against China. The Americans routed the Chinese 108-63 in the 2008 Beijing Games.
"In my opinion, the United States is the best team in the world," China coach Sun Fengwu said through a translator. "It was a good first quarter but then the substitution hurt us and we had 15 turnovers in the first half."
China followed up a fourth place finish at the Beijing Games with a disappointing 13th at the world championship in 2010.
The two teams played an exhibition game in Seattle in May and the U.S. coasted to an easy 38-point victory. The Chinese team was playing without Miao Lijie and Chen Nan in that game. Having its two veterans back made no difference on Sunday.
Chen finished with 16 points to lead China (3-2).
Also Sunday, France finished undefeated in pool play beating Russia 65-54. The Czech Republic clinched a spot in the quarterfinals with a 82-47 win over Angola; Croatia face Turkey and Britain played Brazil later.