Storm guard Sue Bird has nine assists for the U.S.
RIO DE JANEIRO — There was no question coming into the Olympics that the U.S. women’s basketball team could score.
With the offense struggling at points Friday for the first time, the Americans turned up their defensive effort to dispatch Canada.
Maya Moore scored 12 points and the U.S. clinched the top seed in the group with an 81-51 win over its northern neighbors.
“I think we played really hard today on defense,” said guard Sue Bird, who had no points but nine assists. “Everyone’s been talking about our offense, but it’s been our defense that has been the most consistent. Tonight was a good example of that. It wasn’t that we couldn’t score, but we just weren’t scoring at the rate you saw in the first three games. It was our defense that was there for us to rely on.”
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The Americans (4-0) had been scoring at a record pace, topping 100 points in each of their first three contests — the first time a team’s done that at the Olympics. But they couldn’t get into an offensive rhythm for the first 20 minutes against Canada.
The U.S. was out of sync, throwing the ball away on fast breaks and missing open shots. Canada, which already had sealed a berth in the quarterfinals for the second consecutive Olympics, wasn’t intimidated. The teams had played an exhibition game before the Olympics started and Canada lost by 40, never recovering from a slow start.
It was the U.S. that struggled early in this one. The Americans only scored 18 points in the first quarter, their lowest scoring output in any period in Rio. Canada only trailed 18-16. That’s when the U.S. turned up its defense. For nearly 10 minutes, the Americans held Canada without a basket and slowly extended their advantage.
The victory was the Americans’ 45th straight in the Olympics. They are halfway to a sixth consecutive gold medal.
Breanna Stewart, Bird’s teammate with the Seattle Storm, scored five for the U.S.
Rhode wins medal in sixth straight Olympics
American Kim Rhode captured bronze in women’s skeet, becoming the first woman and second athlete overall to earn an individual medal in six straight Olympics.
“Just very emotional, to have my son up there watching me and hearing him yell mommy, it’s truly amazing,” Rhode said, eyes welling as she spoke.
Diana Bacosi earned gold by hitting 15 of 16 targets in the gold-medal match to defeat Italian teammate Chiara Cainero.
But Rhode was the center of attention as she wrapped up a record that started with her double trap gold medal as a precocious 17-year-old kid at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Rhode joins Italian luger Armin Zoeggeler as the only athletes to earn medals in six straight Olympics.
Her six medals are most all-time for a female shooter, and she is one of five athletes to earn a medal in six different Olympics.
• Former UW golfer Cheng Tsung Pan is tied for 10th in men’s golf after a second straight 69. Competing for Taiwan, Pan is six shots behind Australia’s Marcus Fraser.
• Former UW rower Patricia Obee teamed with Lindsay Jennerich to give Canada a silver medal in the women’s lightweight double sculls.
• Kirkland’s Helena Scutt, teaming with Paris Henken, were in 14th place after Friday’s first two races in the 49erFX skiff competition.
• Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica showed off a spectacular new hairdo in track and field 100-meter heats and was the only woman to beat 11 seconds.
• Michelle Carter of the U.S. upset Valerie Adams in the women’s shot put with a throw of 20.63 meters. Adams was trying to win the event for the third straight Olympics.
• Venus Williams is a victory away from a record-tying a fifth Olympic tennis medal. The 36-year-old American and Rajeev Ram reached the mixed doubles semifinals with a 6-3, 7-5 victory.