The U.S. women’s basketball team won its seventh straight gold medal on Saturday night, matching a record set by the U.S. men between 1936 and 1968. The final score over Japan was 90-75.
In winning a silver in its home Olympics, Japan takes home its first-ever medal in women’s basketball.
Brittney Griner took over the game much the way Kevin Durant did for the U.S. men on Friday night. She had 30 points on 14-of-18 shooting. A’ja Wilson, winning a gold medal on her 25th birthday, added 19 points, while Breanna Stewart had a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
“Unreal” was how Griner summed up her Olympic journey after the game.
Get New England news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NECN newsletters.
Maki Takaka led Japan with 17 points. Naka Motohashi had 16 points and four 3-pointers in the first half. Japan kept it close with its 3-point shooting and fast pace until late in the second quarter. Japan had lost to the U.S. by 17 points in the preliminary round and advanced to the gold medal round after routing France, 97-71, in the semifinals.
Even on a team with many Olympic veterans, six of the players were not alive the last time the U.S. didn’t win gold, when they took home bronze from Barcelona in 1992. Meanwhile, Team USA’s most experienced players, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, made history by becoming the first Olympic basketball players – male or female – to win five gold medals.
“It’s 20 years of sacrifice, putting everything aside and just wanting to win,” said Taurasi after the game. “This group found a way to win.”
“It’s not just about us,” Bird said, referencing all of the players who contributed to the U.S. streak.
She became the oldest basketball medalist in history at age 40 and said the first thing she told her fiancée, Megan Rapinoe, after the game was “I’m so tired.”
Serbia and France will play for the bronze medal in women’s basketball on Saturday at 5 a.m. ET.