Aug. 22, 2004
ATHENS, Greece -
Former Notre Dame All-America center and 2001 consensus National Player of the Year Ruth Riley scored nine points, making all four of her shots from the field, as the U.S. women's basketball team closed out preliminary round action at the 2004 Olympic Games with an easy 100-62 win over China on Sunday in Athens, Greece. Riley's nine points are the most she has scored in five Olympic contests thus far -- she is averaging 4.8 points and 3.2 rebounds per game with a team-best .769 field goal percentage thus far at the Athens Games.
With the victory, Team USA improves to 5-0 and extends its winning streak in Olympic competition to 22 games, dating back to the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. The U.S. also has won Group B and will face the host country, Greece, in the quarterfinals of the medal round at a time to be announced later (television coverage also is pending). The Greeks finished fourth in Group A and were the final team to clinch a spot in the medal round with a nail-biting 93-91 win over Japan on Sunday.
The U.S. had no trouble in dispatching China on Sunday, leading by 14 points after one quarter and taking a 20-point lead at halftime. The American edge grew to as many as 39 points in the second half and a last-minute basket by Yolanda Griffith gave Team USA its first triple-digit output of this year's Olympics. In five preliminary-round games, the U.S. averaged 86 points per game and outscored its opponents by 29 points per night.
Diana Taurasi led four Team USA players in double figures, finishing with 19 points. Lisa Leslie added 17 points and Griffith carded a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Americans. Once again, the U.S. defense was sharp, forcing 27 Chinese turnovers while owning a decisive 46-20 rebounding advantage (highlighted by 22 offensive boards for the U.S.). Team USA's bench, led Taurasi, Griffith and Riley, also played a major role, scoring 58 points. The four-player BIG EAST Conference contingent of Taurasi, Riley, Sue Bird and Swin Cash accounted for 39 points and 13 rebounds in the victory.
Riley is the first Notre Dame women's basketball player to take part in Olympic competition. She also is the first Irish cager of any kind to play in the Olympics since Adrian Dantley won a gold medal with the U.S. squad in 1976. Vince Boryla also took home the gold with the American basketball team in 1948, while Bill Hanzlik never got that chance in 1980 due to a U.S.-led boycott of the Moscow Games.
Here is the tentative remaining schedule for Team USA at the 2004 Olympic Games (all times listed are local to South Bend -- television outlets are subject to change):-- ND --
Wed., Aug. 25 -- Time TBA vs. Greece in quarterfinals (television coverage TBA)
Fri., Aug. 27 -- 1:00 a.m. or 3:15 a.m. vs. TBA in semifinals (Game #1 on USA; Game #2 on MSNBC)
Sat., Aug. 28 -- 8:15 a.m. vs. TBA in gold medal game (live on USA network)