RIO DE JANEIRO —Diana Taurasi had a career game to help the U.S. women’s basketball team top Serbia.
While the U.S. had easily routed Senegal and Spain in its first two games, winning by an average of 52.5 points, they had a harder time against the hot-shooting Balkan nation.
Serbia came shooting well from behind the arc and led 17-16 — the latest the Americans have trailed in the Olympics — before Taurasi took over. She scored nine points, including two 3-pointers, during a 15-4 run to close the opening period.
Tina Charles, another UConn alum, who finished with 15 points, got going in the second quarter to help the U.S. extend the advantage to 22 at the half. Taurasi had five 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes, equaling her Olympic team record. She broke the mark early in the third quarter and finished the game with six 3’s to set a new U.S. Olympic mark.
Breanna Stewart had an impressive game as well, scoring 17 points, while Maya Moore also scored seven points.
While Serbia could never recover from its halftime deficit, the Serbians did make the U.S. work on both ends of the floor. They kept pace with the U.S. in the third quarter, only being outscored by one point. Serbia finished the game 12-for-20 from behind the 3-point arc.
The U.S. (3-0) has been scoring at a record pace, topping 100 points for the third consecutive game. The Americans have never done that in the Olympics and are on pace to break the 102.4 points a game the 1996 team averaged en route to the gold medal that started this run of five straight that the U.S. is currently on. The victory was the 44th consecutive for the Americans in the Olympics.
The U.S. had only played Serbia once in major international competition, beating the Balkan nation by 20 points at the 2014 world championship. Serbia has had a disappointing first Olympics after winning the Eurobasket last year. The Serbians lost their first two games by a combined eight points, including blowing an 18-point lead against Canada. Now they sit at 0-3 and in danger of not making it to the quarterfinals.
Next up for the U.S. is Canada on Friday in another preliminary round. The Canadians won their first two games of the Olympics and faced winless Senegal later Wednesday. In the only other game of the day, Spain beat China 89-68.
The final preliminary game will be played against China on August 14, and if they make it the quarterfinals will be held August 16.