USA crush Australia to make Olympic women's basketball semis

Saitama (Japan) (AFP) –


Breanna Stewart scored 23 points as the United States crushed Australia on Wednesday to set up an Olympic women's basketball semi-final against Serbia as they close in on a seventh consecutive title.

Brittney Griner added another 15 points and A'ja Wilson 10 in the 79-55 rout against the world's number two team.

They will meet Serbia on Friday after the European champions and Rio bronze medallists swept past China 77-70.

Hosts Japan face Belgium and France take on Spain in the other last-eight clashes later Wednesday.

It was never going to be easy for Australia to take down the US, who have now won 53 Olympic games in a row.

The incredible streak began with the 1992 bronze-medal decider and includes a record six straight gold medals and four victories in Tokyo.

So dominant are the US that they have won eight out of the past nine Olympic titles, with the only blemishes a silver medal behind the Soviet Union at the inaugural tournament in 1976 and bronze in 1992.

The only team to consistently come close to challenging the US team this century have been Australia, who have contested three gold medal games against them.

But they were never in the contest at Saitama Super Arena.

Led by WNBA stars Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Sylvia Fowles, the US set the tone with a 15-0 run during a first quarter during which Australia nailed just four of 14 field goal attempts.

The Opals' shooting woes stretched into the second term as the US galloped to a 48-27 halfway lead, with Seattle Storm forward Stewart nailing 20 of them.

That blew out to 68-39 heading into the final stretch and there was no way back for Australia.

Earlier, towering forward Jelena Brooks drilled 18 points to help Serbia get past China.

Sonja Vasic added 16 and Ana Dabovic chipped in 13 to book their second Olympic semi-final in only their second appearance.

Serbia beat China to make the women's basketball semi-finals
Serbia beat China to make the women's basketball semi-finals Aris MESSINIS AFP

"We never quit, and we play the hardest when we are down. We showed today we can find energy," said Dabovic.

"This is a great success for a small country. Second time at the Olympics for Serbia, second time in the semi-finals."

Serbia qualified for their debut Games at Rio in 2016, where they beat Australia by two points in the quarters but succumbed to Spain in the semis, before downing France to win bronze.

Little separated the two teams in the early stages in Tokyo, with Brook's 14 points helping Serbia earn a slim 35-33 advantage at the halfway mark.

China put on 25 points to 14 in the third quarter to build a nine-point buffer going into the final stretch, before Serbia went on a 12-point unanswered streak to haul themselves back.

It was level-pegging heading into the dying minutes until personal fouls by a desperate China saw Vasic and Dabovic sink free throws to take the game away.