Lisa Leslie set a U.S. Olympic record going 7-for-7 from the field as the women's team continued its unblemished run through the Beijing Games with a 97-41 victory against Mali.
Leslie finished with 16 points as the U.S. won its 28th straight Olympic contest; the last loss was against the Unified Team in the semifinals of the 1992 Barcelona Games. The Americans have run over their first three opponents winning by an average of 47 points. They routed the Czech Republic, China, and now Mali.
Katie Smith (2000) and Nikki McCray (1996) held the record for highest field goal percentage, each going 6-for-6 from the field. The U.S. plays Spain next on Friday.
Mali was missing it's top player Hamchetou Maiga-Ba of the Houston Comets, who injured her ankle in a loss to the Czech Republic on Monday. Even with Maiga-Ba, the winless Mali team would have been hard-pressed to be competitive against the U.S.
However, for a brief two-minute stretch in the first quarter Mali gave its fans something to cheer about. Trailing 7-0, Mali rattled off eight straight points, hitting two deep 3-pointers. Aminata Sininta's — with 5:34 left in the period gave Mali an 8-7 lead and forced U.S. coach Anne Donovan to call a timeout.
The numerous Mali fans in attendance started snapping pictures of the overhead scoreboard and cheering their team's lead.
It didn't last long as the Americans responded with a 17-4 run to close the quarter as seven different players scored. The U.S. (3-0) continued the spurt scoring the first eight points of the second quarter to build the advantage to 32-12 and led 51-28 at the half. It was only that close as Mali hit five 3-pointers, including three by Sininta.
The U.S. outscored Mali 25-5 in the third quarter and the only suspense left was whether Candace Parker, Leslie, or Sylvia Fowles would become the first woman to dunk in Olympic competition. The trio have all dunked in either college or the WNBA and Fowles was throwing down slams in pregame warmups to the delight of the crowd.
Sininta led Mali (0-3) with 13 points.
Seimone Augustus added 12 points for the U.S., which had five players score in double figures. Tina Thompson, Parker, and Cappie Pondexter each had 10.
In other games today, Spain beat the Czech Republic 74-55, Russia topped Belarus 71-65, Latvia edged Brazil 79-78, China beat New Zealand 80-63, and Australia routed South Korea 90-62.
Leslie perfect as U.S. routs Mali in women's hoops