<
>

Canada loses by just 30 to U.S. women, kind of happy about it

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Such is the juggernaut that is the U.S. women's basketball team that there must have been something terribly wrong on Friday when, horror of horrors, it got off to a slow start against Canada, won by 30 points and scored less than 100.

Earlier this week, the women were too good. On Friday, their 81-51 victory was almost a case of, "What happened?"

Such is the supremacy of this team that Canada, one of the more formidable groups in the competition, was actually pretty pumped over the whole thing.

"We were really happy we were able to keep them under 100 and be the only one that [has done] that," said Natalie Achonwa, who plays for the Indiana Fever as the only Canadian player on an WNBA team.

It was the 45th straight Olympic victory for the U.S., which is pursuing its sixth straight gold medal. But given the U.S. women's soccer team's loss to Sweden on Friday, anything is possible, right?

Maybe not.

The women's hoops team watched part of the soccer game before its contest versus Canada, and U.S. coach Geno Auriemma later related a conversation he once had with the legendary UConn women's soccer coach Len Tsantiris.

"We were talking once after a game," Auriemma said, "and I asked him, 'So, what happened?' And he said, 'We dominated the game. Dominated. We had 24 shots on goal. They had two. ... We lost, 1-0.'"

Auriemma shook his head.

"See, I don't have to worry about that," he said. "If we dominate a game that bad, we're going to win. That's a crazy game, a crazy game. I don't know how they do it."

Even if Auriemma's team doesn't dominate, as it did in the first half, they're still going to win -- and, on most occasions, win big.

The Canadians were more physical than usual on defense and disciplined in their offensive sets.

"Some teams, their style of play isn't going to necessarily allow [100 points]," Auriemma said. "They maximize every shot clock opportunity, and they run their offense over and over and over.

"And we shot the ball lousy in the first half."

If 48 percent is lousy, however, Canada was far lousier, connecting on just 1 of 10 shots in the second quarter, 6-of-19 in the third and 19-of-58 overall for 33 percent.