Rio De Janiero – After another blowout victory and another medal ceremony for the U.S.women's basketball team, Maya Moore was asked whether such dominance hurts her sport.
"When I find a really good piece of fabulous cuisine, I don't say, 'It's too good,' " Moore said. "I say, 'Give me another piece.' "
Moore and her teammates grabbed another piece of gold Saturday, beating Spain 101-72 in the championship game at the Rio Olympics and concluding a tournament that often looked like it might as well have been played at Target Center, home of the Lynx.
Four Lynx players and their coach earned medals, and the tears and hugs made gold seem like anything but a foregone conclusion.
Moore finished with 14 points, six assists and five rebounds in 18 minutes.
"We want to play a beautiful game, to make each other better, and to do amazing things that make the refs have to yell at us, 'Everybody on the bench sit down!' " Moore said. "It's not just the amount of talent on this team; it's the quality of the people. No drama. No pointing fingers, nobody trying to steal anybody else's shine. You don't see that in different places around the world."
Lynx center Sylvia Fowles collected three points and six rebounds.
"I never thought I would actually tear up, after all of my medals," she said. "I think a lot of it had to do with the coaches and all of the hard work they did to get us here, and our captains for getting back for a fourth gold."
What did the gold mean to guard Seimone Augustus? When asked, she cried. Her home in Baton Rouge, La., is flooded, her parents had to evacuate and she only recently learned that her neighbors had saved her horses.
"I did this for Baton Rouge," she said. "The whole thought process and effort was trying to give the people back home something to be proud and happy about. Everybody there has lost a lot."
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve worked as an assistant under head coach Geno Auriemma for the first time. She might have a future with USA Basketball. "Having Cheryl here was incredibly helpful and important to the whole success of what we did the past two weeks," Auriemma said. "Coaches are picked for sometimes the wrong reasons to represent a particular country. There are a lot of politics. Cheryl was here because she's a great, great coach, as good a coach as we have in America. She proved it these last two weeks."
Lindsay Whalen played a key role, tying team highs with 17 points and six assists while her parents and husband, Ben Greve, watched from the stands.
"We've only been together for a month, but you've worked hard for this for your whole life," Whalen said. "It's special. It's cool. My parents lugged me around to AAU and juggling their schedules so I could play. They made sacrifices. Ben traveled with me when I played overseas. A lot goes into these big moments."
Spain led 17-14 with just more than two minutes remaining in the first quarter. Whalen saw Spain's defenders attacking the ball, denying three-point shots and easy passes.
Whalen began attacking. She hit a jumper, then a free throw, to tie the score. Moore and Diana Taurasi started hitting outside shots, and on the last play of the first half, Moore found Whalen on a long pass that led to a fast-break layup. That put the U.S. up 49-32. It was all over but the crying.
Moore and Fowles figure to be back in 2020. Will Augustus and Whalen return?
"If I'm feeling good, I would never turn down a chance to play for USA Basketball," Whalen said.
"If the committee wants me and my mind and body hold up, yes I would," Augustus said.
As a Hutchinson native, Whalen knows she might need to take her medals on tour.
"Every time I go home, people want to see them," she said. "So I'm sure we'll be taking them on a couple trips down Highway 7."
Jim Souhan's podcast can be heard at MalePatternPodcasts.com. On Twitter: @SouhanStrib. • email@example.com