A WNBA-high six Mercury players competed in Rio, and after more than two weeks of competition, they’ll bring home a league-high four medals, too.
Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner captured gold as Team USA won its sixth consecutive Olympic tournament with a perfect 8-0 record. Marta Xargay’s Spain secured silver after falling to the Americans in the finals, 101-72. And Sonja Petrovic helped Serbia bounce back from a semifinal loss with a 70-63 victory over France in the bronze-medal game.
Taurasi scored a team-high 17 points for the USA versus Spain and added three assists, three rebounds and two steals. For the tournament, the 34-year-old shot a scorching 57.9 percent (33-of-57) from three-point range. If Sunday marked her last time wearing the red white and blue, she finishes her Olympic career second in points (379), trailing only Lisa Leslie (488).
“You play these eight games and you want to win so bad. The one thing we didn’t do is we didn’t take any possessions off,” Taurasi told USA Basketball after receiving her fourth gold medal. “We played every single game like it was a gold-medal game and that’s why I think you see everyone is emotionally and physically spent right now. And that takes a certain character team and individuals. I’ve never been a part of anything like this.”
Griner, playing in her first Olympics, capped her tournament with four points and seven rebounds. Her final averages were 9.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. Griner is now the 10th athlete to win Olympic gold, a FIBA World Championship title (2014), a WNBA crown (2014) and an NCAA Championship (2012).
“I’m just overwhelmed right now with excitement,” Griner said. “I knew I was going to cry, but I didn’t know what moment I was going to cry. But when we were standing there and our flag was going up and they played the national anthem, I got teary-eyed. That’s what got me. That’s what choked me up.”
Xargay played 24 minutes in the gold-medal round and scored 12 points. Petrovic dropped 10 points, three steals and two assists in her farewell to Rio.
The Mercury return to action on Friday when they host the Dallas Wings at 7:00 p.m. at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The playoff chase will begin with a special ceremony honoring the team’s returning Olympians. The first 2,500 fans in attendance will receive a “baller-est” Taurasi bobblehead. You can buy tickets here.
In her third and final Olympic Games, Penny Taylor led Australia to a perfect 5-0 record during the group play stages, averaging 15.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Taylor’s quest for a third-career Olympic medal came up short, however, after a 73-71 upset at the hands of Serbia in the quarterfinals.
Despite not making it out of group play, Lindsey Harding led Belarus in both scoring and assists in her first Olympics, posting averages of 13.9 points and 5.0 assists per game.