OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Diana Taurasi scored 24 points and Sylvia Fowles added 15 to help the United States beat Australia 83-75 on Wednesday night, earning the top seed in the quarterfinals at the women's world basketball championship.
Tina Charles had 14 points for the U.S. (6-0), which will face South Korea on Friday in Karlovy Vary. Australia (5-1) will take on the Czech Republic. The Americans remained undefeated against the Aussies in the worlds, improving to 9-0 all-time.
Liz Cambage, the 6-foot-8 phenom, scored 18 points to lead the defending world champions while Lauren Jackson added 13.
The two teams can't meet again until potentially the gold medal game.
It was strange seeing these two women's basketball powerhouses meet so early in the tournament. This was the first time since 1994 that they played in the worlds before the medal round.
Even with a lot less at stake, the teams went right at each other, trading points early on. It was tough for anyone to get into an offensive flow though as the officials called 17 fouls in the first 8 minutes.
Leading 21-18 with 1:56 left in the first period, the Americans took over with Fowles and Taurasi keying an 18-0 run.
The 6-foot-6 center started the spurt with a tough lay-in. Taurasi followed with an acrobatic jumper. On the next play, Sue Bird tracked down the ball at midcourt and passed ahead to Fowles for another easy lay-in as the Americans were off and running to the delight of the crowd of 6,340.
The U.S. led by 11 after one period and continued the onslaught to start the second quarter, scoring the first nine points. Taurasi hit two 3-pointers during the burst, including one with 8 minutes left that capped the run and made it 39-18.
Jackson finally ended Australia's drought with a deep 3-pointer, but the U.S. maintained an 18-point halftime lead.
Unlike the 2008 Olympic gold medal game when the Americans jumped out to a 17-point halftime lead and then coasted to a 92-65 win, Australia battled back in the second half.
Trailing 67-48, the Aussies scored eight of the next nine points to make it a 12-point game. Cambage asserted herself on both ends, blocking shots and showing an array of post moves.
The 19-year-old, who leads the team in scoring for the tournament, has shown vast improvement since the first time the U.S. saw her in a scrimmage back in July.
Her three-point play with 2:26 left cut Australia's deficit to 79-70, but it wasn't enough.