U.S. women unstoppable in quarters

For the rest of the world, the United States women's basketball national team has long been like an unsolvable Rubik's Cube. No algorithm works.

Some of the names change on the USA roster, but the Americans are still a confounding puzzle. The fact that France won in an exhibition against the United States last month might have provided the French with a confidence boost that they could pull a similar upset when it really counted.

Then Friday's USA-France quarterfinal game of the FIBA World Championship started. And pretty quickly, it was completely over. The final score was 94-72, and now the United States stands two wins away from another title. It will face Australia in Saturday's semifinals (ESPN3, 2:15 p.m. ET).

It's hard enough to contend with the Americans when they're having just an average shooting game. When they are hitting practically every shot they even think about, just forget it.

About all the French could do was borrow a line from "Casablanca" on Friday: "We'll always have Paris."

France's victory in the City of Lights on Sept. 21 might have been the best thing that could have happened for Team USA. It's not that the Americans "needed" to lose, as if they had heads the size of Mr. Met's.

The U.S. team is veteran-led, and two of its starters -- Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird -- were on the squad that lost in the 2006 world championship semifinals to Russia. There really wasn't much chance the Americans were going to come into this event in Turkey thinking all they had to do was show up.

Just the same, though, what the exhibition loss to France did was drive home two points: The Americans needed to press their advantage inside, and they needed to fully embrace the "Griner Effect" once center Brittney Griner was with the team.

She wasn't there for the exhibition but joined the U.S. squad soon after. And she has been as big a weapon as U.S. coach Geno Auriemma could have hoped. Friday, she led the Americans with 17 points, going 7-of-9 from the field.

Fellow star center Tina Charles, who had been the top scorer in the exhibition loss to France, also shot 7-for-9 Friday for 15 points.

The thing was it wasn't just the inside game that worked for the Americans on Friday. It was everything. This was one of those rare times when if you shot 50 percent, you were the least accurate player on the team.

The Americans shot 71 percent for the game (41 of 58). Lindsay Whalen was 6-of-7 for 13 points. Maya Moore was 4-of-6 for 10.

"I thought our posts did a great job of finding each other," Moore said. "And then when we got those stops, we were running. That's when we're at our best: when we rebound and get out and run."

So if you're the Australians now, you're thinking of the Americans, "Oh, great. They shot just shot 70-freaking-1 percent."

The Aussies are the next to try to stop the United States, something they didn't have to do back in 2006 when the Opals took the world championship title. They beat Russia after the Russians had bumped the Americans to the bronze-medal game.

That didn't really bother the Aussies, nor should it have. It didn't change the color of gold.

But now they have another opportunity to defeat the team that has been their nemesis for so long at the international level. They'll have to try to do so without 6-foot-8 center Liz Cambage, who has missed this tournament after tearing her Achilles' tendon last month. Nor do they have Lauren Jackson, also forced to miss the event with injuries.

The Aussies are a tough unit, though, and they won't back down from the Americans. But they have to find a way to slow not just Griner, but everything else the U.S. squad has to throw at opponents.