U.S. wins, will play for gold

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KARLOVY VARY, Czech Republic --- For four years, Tamika Catchings, Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi have carried the disappointment of losing in the semifinals of the 2006 world championship.

Now they are a step away from redeeming one of the only blemishes on their spectacular careers.

Catchings scored 14 points and Taurasi added 11 to lead the United States to a 106-70 victory over Spain and into the gold medal game of the women's basketball world championship.

"There's only three of us from that team in Brazil and it was one of the worst nights of my career," Bird said. "I don't think I've ever fallen short that way before. It stuck with everyone who was there. This was our chance to get rid of that terrible taste."

To completely remove it, the Americans will have to beat the host Czech Republic tonight. The championship is similar to the gold medal matchup in the men's worlds, where the U.S. beat host Turkey to win the gold.

"Tomorrow night is going to be one of the most difficult challenges for this team, playing the Czechs on their home court with all their fans," coach Geno Auriemma said. "It's been a Cinderella run for them. The emotions and energy this building is going to have. This will be a great place to be tomorrow."

Sylvia Fowles added 13 and Angel McCoughtry 11 for the Americans (8-0).

For the past two nights the Czechs have drawn sellout crowds. Tonight should be another incredible atmosphere.

"The Czech Republic is playing for a world championship on their home court. Even better, they're playing against the USA," Auriemma said. "If the Czech Republic wins a world championship on their home court. I might not go home on Monday to stay here for the celebration."

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