LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 09: Tina Charles #14 of United States attempts a shot in the first half against Lauren Jackson #15 of Australia during the Women's Basketball semifinal on Day 13 of the London 2012 Olympics Games at North Greenwich Arena on August 9, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
The U.S. battled Australia for women's basketball supremacy and this game was the team's biggest competition yet in London.
The U.S. women’s basketball team was down at the half, 47 to 43, but the score was soon tied at 48 and the U.S. ultimately won, 86 to 73.
Much of the third quarter was a back-and-forth race for points, but the U.S. had a six point lead going into the final quarter and the lead would just grow from there.
Former UConn stars Tina Charles and Diana Taurasi led the scoring with 14 points each and Sue Bird was the next highest scorer with 13.
Lindsay Whalen, a former Connecticut Sun player, helped the momentum.
And, with 7:05 left to go, the crowd was chanting "USA" after a breakaway two-pointer by former UConn star Maya Moore that gave the U.S. a 9-point lead.
From there, the U.S. lead just grew and now the U.S. will go for the gold on Saturday against France or Russia.
With two minutes left to go, the emotion was visible on the Australian bench.
This looked like a gold medal game and, for awhile, it looked like it could go in Australia's favor.
The semifinal is the round where the top-ranked teams in the world square off.
"We can't control when we play them," U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said ahead of the game. "They are a talented team with really good posts in Lauren Jackson and Liz Cambage. We just need to keep getting better every game and focus on what we do."
The last time the teams met in the semifinals was the 1996 Atlanta Games. The U.S. came away with a 22-point victory en route to the first of its four consecutive gold medals.
The Americans have won their last six Olympic match-ups against the Australians and will counter Australia's size with the trio of Candace Parker, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.
Fowles had missed three of the preliminary round games while resting a sore left foot. The 6-foot-5 center has played nine minutes in each of the last two games and played well.
"Getting Sylvia healthy is great and Candace has been playing very well lately," Auriemma said.
They'll need them against the 6-8 Cambage and the 6-5 Jackson.
Until this game, the Americans cruised, winning their six tournament games by an average of 38 points. Teams have been able to hang with them for a half, but the depth of the U.S. eventually wears them down.
That is what happened again on Thursday.
The U.S. has also dominated its match-ups against the Australians — including a 27-point win in the 2008 gold medal game.
"We're operating on a lot of good cylinders right now," Auriemma said. "That could change. It's all about making shots in the Olympics. We're not going to keep Lauren Jackson and Liz Cambage from getting shots."
A gold medal is one of the only things lacking from Jackson's impressive career. She's won a world championship, two WNBA titles and is now the Olympics all-time leading scorer. Yet she's come up just short in her three Olympic appearances, winning the silver medal each time.
Australia came into the London Games off a disappointing fifth place finish at the 2010 world championship. The Aussies are missing star guard Penny Taylor, who tore her anterior cruciate ligament in the Euro League finals in April. They lost a pool game to France — the first time they were beaten by a team other than the U.S. in the Olympics since 1996.