Finally healthy, guard sparks Americans vs. Brazil
Diana Taurasi wasn't bothered by playing her first game in nearly two months or fazed by a locker room visit by President Obama after the U.S. women's national team's 99-67 rout of Brazil at Verizon Center.
Asked about the president's message and her health, Taurasi's transition was as seamless as her return to the floor.
"We talked a little health care, tax breaks," Taurasi said. "I felt pretty good."
Taurasi, who hadn't played since May 26 because of a hip injury, had 16 points and seven assists. Her six turnovers were the only signs of her layoff. She hit a step-back jump shot for the game's first bucket, and Tamika Catchings (eight points) followed with a steal off the Brazilian inbounds pass as the United States scored the game's first seven points and took an early 13-2 lead.
Lindsay Whalen, one of five U.S. players headed to their first Olympics, led the United States with 21 points and five assists as a replacement for starting point guard Sue Bird, who missed the game because of a death in the family. Seimone Augustus had 12 points, while Tina Charles and Maya Moore each had 11.
"I just wanted to come out, make sure we got some good looks and shared the ball, moved the ball and was aggressive when the time presented itself," Whalen said. "It was a good start for us."
Iziane Castro Marques (21 points) pushed the pace for the Brazilians but paid the price with foul trouble. After picking up her third foul with 1:28 left in the first quarter, Marques compounded the infraction with a double technical foul -- which also counted as her fourth personal -- shared with Charles.
Marques' replacement, Karla Da Costa, came off the bench to score seven straight points and finished with 19, including a trio of 3-pointers.
Seated just behind the U.S. bench during the first half, the U.S. women's male counterparts quietly tried to watch the action but attracted a steady stream of attention and flashbulbs.
Sylvia Fowles nearly had the highlight of the night for the United States, but her breakaway dunk attempt in the fourth quarter rimmed out.