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USA women’s basketball vs. Australia 2016 results: 3 things we learned in a matchup of the world’s best teams

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Team USA looked strong against their biggest threat for gold.

USA Select Team v United States Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

In a preview of what may be the gold medal game in three weeks, Team USA beat Team Australia, 104-89, in Madison Square Garden.

Diana Taurasi had a team-high 20 points, and for the first time in four exhibition games TeamUSA had five players scoring in double figures. Elena Delle Donne finished with 19 points, Brittney Griner 15, Maya Moore 13 and Angel McCoughtry 12.

In Australia’s first look at Delle Donne, the WNBA’s reigning MVP dominated as Team USA’s top scoring threat in the first half. Working in the post and spotting up from deep she scored 17 points on a perfect 6-for-6 shooting. Delle Donne went to work on the block, spinning toward the rim where she was able to get to the line four times.

McCoughtry supplemented Delle Donne’s prominence in the paint with a flurry of attacks to the rim herself. She scored 12 points on seven total shots and grabbed five rebounds.

Though the Americans built up a double-digit lead early in the second quarter, the Australians fought back behind the efforts of former Phoenix Mercury and New York Liberty guard Leilani Mitchell. She connected on a pair of threes and found gaps in the Americans’ defense to shoot 6-for-8 from the field for 18 points.

Team USA took a 54-48 lead into the half.

Taurasi helped blow the lead open to 18 by the end of the third quarter. She scored 15 points in five minutes including back-to-back shots from distance.

The Americans showed flashes of greatness on the defensive end, but not without a predictable flaw in failing to stop 6’9 center Liz Cambage. She scored 8 consecutive points early in the third, and head coach Geno Auriemma looked to Griner to slow her down. Griner showed her worth, stopping Cambage’s run.

Next up for Team USA is Team Senegal in Rio on August 7 for the start of group play.

Australia had no answer for EDD

Elena Delle Donne was perfect on six shots through the first half, finding most of her success fading from the rim down low. She’s been a big factor in two straight games now, looking more confident in using her size against smaller international opponents. She may be the difference-maker should these teams meet again in a few weeks.

Griner will have to play more minutes against Australia

Griner’s been the last player off the bench in most exhibition games, playing the team’s fewest minutes as Auriemma defers to playing smaller, more athletic forwards. Against most teams that’ll work, but it was obvious Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles’ defensive presence wasn’t enough against 6’9 Cambage. Griner had some success taking over to protect the paint and will play her most useful minutes against Australia.

Sue Bird’s crossover was OMG

She’s still got it.

#SueBird #USA #MSG

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