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US 101, Yugoslavia 74

September 22, 1988

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ Teresa Edwards scored 23 points and Bridgette Gordon 20 as the United States women’s basketball team overcame a slow start and raced by Yugoslavia 101-74 on Thursday to secure a berth in the Olympic medal round.

Down by eight points after 6 1/2 minutes of play, the U.S. team used its quickness and half-court trapping defense to take control of the game with first-half scoring bursts of 9-0, 12-2 and 9-0. It built a 55-40 halftime lead, which grew to as many as 28 points in the second half.

The Americans had been unable to capitalize on their speed in struggling to beat Czechoslovakia 87-81 in the first round, but once they got running Thursday, the Yugoslavs simply couldn’t keep up. It was the type of performance that had been expected from the U.S. team, which is favored to win the gold medal.

Now 2-0 in preliminary group play and only a game remaining against China on Sunday, the United States is assured of getting into the medal round, which begins Tuesday.

The worst the U.S. team could do is tie Czechoslovakia or Yugoslavia, which is 1-1, for second in the pool and because the Americans have defeated both, they would advance to the semifinals.

Cynthia Cooper added 17 points for the United States, including 10 in the final 3 1/2 minutes of the first half, and Vicky Bullett added 10.

It was only the second time in Olympic history that a women’s basketball team topped the 100-point mark. The Soviet Union did it first, beating the United States 112-77 in 1976.

The U.S. speed also had the Yugoslavs in foul trouble throughout the game because they were caught reaching or out of position under the basket. Four Yugoslavian players fouled out and the United States made 32 of 40 free throws.

Sladjana Golic led Yugoslavia with 16 points, Danira Nakic scored 15 and Polona Dornic 11. All three fouled out.

Yugoslavia played much of the game without 6-foot-7, 224-pound center Razija Mujanovic, who crashed to the floor and twisted her knee with 10 minutes, 19 seconds left in the first half. She was taken off the floor on a stretcher and returned in the second half, but played only briefly.

The United States missed its first four shots and turned the ball over three times in the first 2 1/2 minutes and didn’t start to assert itself until after Yugoslavia, playing a patient, half-court game, had taken a 16-8 lead.

The Americans then went into their trapping defense and the payoff was a 9-0 run that put them ahead 17-16 with 11:03 left in the half.

Edwards started the spurt with a jumper, Gordon banked in a shot and Jennifer Gillom came up with two quick steals that led to points - a fastbreak layup by Edwards and two free throws by Teresa Weatherspoon. The United States then forced a turnover at mid-court and Gillom sank a free throw to cap the run.

Yugoslavia regained the lead at 22-21 on consecutive jump shots by Golic and Dornik, but Edwards sailed in for a fastbreak layup to start the 12-2 run that put the United States ahead to stay. Bullett scored six points in the spurt, which produced a 33-24 lead with 5:43 left in the half.

The Yugoslavs were never closer than six points after that. Cooper’s 3- pointer made it 42-33 at the 3:29 mark and she hit another 3-pointer and two free throws to cap a 9-0 run at the end of the half that made it 55-40.

The United States stumbled briefly in the second half and Yugoslavia cut the lead to 62-52 on Dornik’s turn-around shot with 13:20 left.

But Katrina McClain scored on a layup, then sank two free throws, and Edwards blew past two Yugoslavians on a baseline drive for a basket that made it 68-52 at the 11:43 mark.

After Yugoslavia scored to make it 68-54, the United States went on a 22-8 run that featured 12 points by Gordon to open a 90-62 lead with 4:31 left. The Americans led by 28 one other time before settling for the final 27-point margin.

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