USA Opens FIBA World Championship With 87-56 Win Over China
• VIDEO: Game Recap
The 2014 USA Basketball Women’s World Championship Team (1-0) limited China (0-1) to just eight points in the third quarter while it scored 21 to capture the game’s momentum on the way to an 87-56 win in its first game of the 2014 FIBA World Championship on Saturday night at Abdi Ipekci Arena in Istanbul, Turkey.
The USA’s seven-point halftime lead, 39-32, quickly ballooned to 16 points after the USA opened the second half with a 9-0 run that made it 48-31 after a 3-pointer from Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) at 5:44.
“It’s the kind of game that you would hope to have as the first game of the tournament, where you have to play really well against China defensively because they do a lot of good stuff on the offensive end,” said USA head coach Geno Auriemma (University of Connecticut). “And we didn’t make any shots in the first half at all. I think in one possession we had six shots at the basket, and five of them were inside a foot-and-a-half, two feet. So, when we went in at halftime we talked about it, and then stuff started going in. So, it was good that we started the game in the first half under a little bit of duress and we finished the game on a high, so that’s great going into tomorrow against another really good team in Serbia.”
The USA will continue preliminary round play against Serbia (1-0) on Sept. 28 (2:30 p.m. EDT live on NBA TV and ESPN3), and then wrap up its preliminary slate against Angola (0-1) on Sept. 30 (2:30 p.m. EDT live on NBA TV and ESPN3).
Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury), who was playing in her first game with the team since arriving in Istanbul on Sept. 24, had a dunk just 1:46 into the game, grabbed seven rebounds overall and finished with 15 points and four blocked shots. Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) had 15 points and eight rebounds; Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx) added 11 points; Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream) had 10 points; and Tina Charles (New York Liberty) collected 15 rebounds. All 12 players contributed points to the USA's win.
The USA’s 63 rebounds set a USA Women’s World Championship team record, topping the high of 60 rebounds that was set against Lithuania in the 1998 FIBA World Championship, and its 89 shot attempts also were a record, bettering the USA’s 88 attempts against Brazil in 1994.
“I was happy that we got the win,” Griner said. “I was happy that I remembered the plays, just getting with the team. I think we did well. There’s always room to grow, to get better. I think we can rebound a little bit better, myself going to get some more boards.”
The USA started the game with a 7-0 lead, but China evened the score at 7-all at 4:34. Led by nine points from Griner in the first quarter, the USA closed the period with a 13-6 scoring advantage to lead 20-13 at the first break. Despite the game being the USA’s first as a 12-member unit, seven of the USA’s eight baskets were assisted on in the first 10 minutes.
China came as close as one point, 22-21, with a 3-pointer at 8:18, but the USA put up six straight points to go back ahead 28-21 when Griner scored at 6:18. Each team scored 11 more points, including a last-second layup for China to beat the halftime buzzer, and the score was 39-32 at the midway point.
While the USA was just 1-of-7 from 3-point (.143) in the first half, China was 4-of-10 from deep (.400), but the Americans forced China into 12 turnovers, which they turned into 11 points.
A 9-0 run that included five points from Taurasi helped the USA go ahead 48-32 at 5:44, and China never recovered. Though China scored to end the streak, it only managed eight points in the period as the U.S. defense buckled down. Meanwhile, the USA put up 21 points from five scorers to lead 60-40 headed into the fourth quarter.
Three times last in the fourth quarter the USA’s lead stretched to as many as 31 points, and when Odyssey Sims (Tulsa Shock) made two free throws with 1:07 remaining in the game, all 12 U.S. players had recorded points in the win.
The USA, which finished the game shooting 43.8 percent (39-89 FGs) from the field, heated up to a sizzling 63.2 percent (12-19 FGs) in the third quarter and 51.2 percent (22-43 FGs) in the second half.
“I think the thing about our team is our depth,” McCoughtry said. “We can wear teams out by the third, fourth quarters, where they won't have any legs. We can bring people off the bench that are rested and athletic, so I think that helps.”
Xiaojia Chen and Mengran Sun had 10 points each for China.
In today’s other games, in the USA’s Group D, Serbia cruised past Angola 102-42; while in Group C, also in Istanbul, Australia (1-0) defeated Cuba (0-1) 90-57, and Belarus (1-0) topped South Korea (0-1) 70-64. In Ankara, Turkey, Group A saw Spain (1-0) victorious over Japan (0-1) 74-50 and Czech Republic (1-0) defeat Brazil (0-1) 68-55; and in Group B Canada (1-0) won against Mozambique (0-1) 69-54, and host Turkey (1-0) edged past France (0-1) 50-48.
Teams finishing No. 1 in their respective pools advance directly to the quarterfinals, while teams finishing No. 2 and No. 3 in each pool will compete on Oct. 1 for the right to continue to the medal round. The No. 4 finishing teams conclude their World Championship play. The quarterfinals will be held Oct. 3, semifinals on Oct. 4 and the gold and bronze medal games will be contested on Oct. 5. Game times for the medal rounds will be announced by FIBA at a later date.
Auriemma is being assisted on the sideline by DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno, Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve and University of South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley; while University of Hartford head coach Jennifer Rizzotti serves as an advance scout and court coach for the 2014 USA squad.
The USA owns a record eight gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals in FIBA World Championship play, while compiling an all-time 98-21 record at the event. In 2010, the most recent World Championship, the U.S. finished with a perfect 9-0 record and the gold medal.
STAT NOTES: The USA had the advantage over China in second chance points (24-8) and in fast break points (28-9) … The USA recently defeated China 99-75 in exhibition play on Sept. 20 in the France International Tournament in Paris, France … Brittney Griner, Maya Moore and Nnemkadi Ogwumike competed professionally in China last year, and for Moore, it was her second year playing for the Shanxi Flames. While there are no Shanxi teammates of Moore’s on China’s roster, Griner had one Zhejiang Far East teammate in Song Gao and Ogwumike went against two Guangdong Dolphin teammates, Hongpin Huang and Liwei Yang.