Breanna Stewart scored 23 points to lead the Team USA women's basketball team to a quarterfinal victory over Australia in the Tokyo Olympics at Saitama Super Arena in Japan.
The other quarterfinals in the women's bracket on Wednesday saw Serbia knock off China, Japan narrowly get past Belgium and France edge Spain.
Semifinals will take place Friday.
Women's Basketball Quarterfinals
Serbia 77, China 70
United States 79, Australia 55
Japan 86, Belgium 85
France 67, Spain 64
United States vs. Serbia
Japan vs. France
Aug. 4 Recap
Team USA didn't play up to its remarkably high standards during the group stage, winning its three games by an average of 12.3 points. By comparison, the U.S. won its five matchups in pool play by an average of 40.8 points at the 2016 Rio Games.
Yet the American women, who've now won 53 straight Olympic games dating back to 1992, once again looked like the clear favorite for the gold medal in the quarterfinals.
Along with Stewart's strong play, Brittney Griner added 15 points and eight rebounds, while Chelsea Gray chipped in seven points and eight assists.
"We wanted to come out and set the tone on both ends of the floor," Stewart told reporters about the U.S. going up by 14 points after the first quarter. "We haven't had great starts to the games so far. This is the quarterfinals and it's win or go home."
USA Basketball @usabasketball
Different game, same Stewie 😤 <a href="https://twitter.com/breannastewart?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@breannastewart</a> vs 🇦🇺<br><br>🔥 23 PTS<br>🔥 8-of-10 FG<br><br>🇺🇸 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/USABWNT?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#USABWNT</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Tokyo2020?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Tokyo2020</a> <a href="https://t.co/ijGXq8Cbnk">pic.twitter.com/ijGXq8Cbnk</a>
Sue Bird, who tallied nine points and five dimes, said Team USA has been "trending in the right direction."
"Knockout rounds brings out a certain intensity about a team and that played a huge role in it," Bird said. "It's do or die at this point. That helps."
Elsewhere, Serbia overcame a nine-point deficit entering the fourth quarter to advance. Jelena Brooks led the offensive charge for the 2021 Women's EuroBasket champions with 18 points. Sonja Vasic added 16 points and 10 boards.
Rui Machida was the hero for Japan as she knocked down the go-ahead three with 16 seconds left to give the hosts a two-point lead. The Japanese defense then stood tall in the final moments as Kim Mestdagh missed a game-tying attempt at the buzzer for Belgium.
Yuki Miyazawa (21 points) and Maki Takada (19) paced the Japan offense.
In the day's last game, France steadily built a seven-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, but Spain stormed back to take a three-point lead, 60-57, with just under four minutes to play.
France finished the game on a 10-4 run, including six makes from the free-throw line, to survive. Marine Johannes scored 18 points in the win.
Friday's semifinal schedule will feature the United States vs. Serbia at 1:40 p.m. local time (12:40 a.m. ET in the U.S.) and Japan vs. France at 8 p.m. (7 a.m. ET).