Game Preview: USA To Go Up Against Rival Australia In Semifinals
The USA Basketball Women's World Championship Team, defending Olympic and FIBA World Championship gold medalist, takes on Australia, 2012 Olympic bronze medalists. With the USA ranked No. 1 in FIBA’s women’s world rankings and Australia the No. 2-ranked women’s program, the game should be quite competitive. To follow the action, watch the game live (2:15 p.m. EDT) on ESPN3/WatchESPN or NBA TV and follow the USA Basketball Twitter account for game updates.
Defending FIBA World Champions, the USA women rolled through pool play with a perfect 3-0 record to advance directly to the quarterfinals where it defeated France 94-72 to earn its berth in the medal semifinals.
In preliminary action, the U.S. opened play with an 87-56 victory over China, then surged past Serbia in the second half for a 94-74 victory and closed pool play with a record-setting 119-44 win over Angola.
Averaging 14.5 points a game, Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) is leading the USA in scoring and ranks third in rebounding with 6.8 rebounds per game; while Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury) is averaging USA second-bests of 14.3 ppg. and 7.3 rpg. to go with a team-high 2.8 blocks a game. Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx) is averaging 10.5 ppg,. Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks) is contributing 9.3 ppg., and Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) rounds out the top five scorers at 9.3 ppg. to go with a team-high 4.3 apg. Tina Charles (New York Liberty) is averaging 9.0 ppg. and a team-high 8.3 rpg.
The USA has reached the medal podium in each FIBA World Championship since 1979, when it claimed gold. Including the gold medal in 1979, the American women in the past nine Worlds have claimed six gold medals, one silver medal and two bronze medals, while compiling a 68-5 record from 1979-2010 for a stunning 93.1 winning percentage.
Australia cruised through its preliminary round games and defeated Cuba (90-57), South Korea (87-54) and Belarus (87-45) to take the top spot in Group C and advance directly to the quarterfinals, where it defeated Canada 63-52 en route to the semifinal clash with the USA.
The Aussies own an overall record of 64-40 (.615) in 14 World Championship appearances, which includes its 4-0 start in 2014.
Australia’s best finish at this event came in 2006 as it earned a perfect 9-0 record to take gold in Brazil. Australia also finished with the bronze medal in 1998 and 2002, while the most recent World Championship saw the Aussies eliminated in the quarterfinals by host Czech Republic, and they finished off the podium in fifth place.
Australia features a pair of recently crowned WNBA champions in Penny Taylor and Erin Phillips. Thus far in Turkey, Taylor is averaging 12.8 ppg. and 4.0 apg., while Phillips has dished out a team-high 5.0 apg.. Also aiding in the team’s 81.8 ppg. output are Marianna Tolo (10.5 ppg.), Rachel Jarry (9.8 ppg.) and Belinda Snell (8.8 ppg.).
Overall in FIBA World Championship play, the USA is 9-0 against Australia, with the most recent meeting coming in the 2010 preliminary round as the U.S. claimed an 83-75 victory.
LAST TIME OUT: The USA Women’s National Team, which led by just one point at halftime, 28-27, in its exhibition game against Australia, pulled away with a 9-0 run late in the third quarter for a 72-66 win in the 2014 France International Tournament on Sept. 19 at Pierre de Coubertin Stadium in Paris, France. In the last minute of the game, the USA led 72-59 before Australia closed with the last seven points to make the finish seem closer than it was.
The USA was still in the process of team selection and had 15 active players, all of whom saw at least eight minutes of playing time, and all 15 put points on the board. The USA recorded 19 assists on its 30 made field goals. The USA roster had grown to 15 players just the day before with the addition of Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury) and Taurasi, but was still without Griner.
“Obviously the U.S. and Australia have a history,” said USA head coach Geno Auriemma (University of Connecticut). “It used to be where Russia was the team that everyone thought they had to work to beat. Australia’s come so far in the past few Olympics, since 2000, since the Olympics were in Sydney. It’s a shame they lost their big kid. It seems like the tables have been reversed. They lost Liz (Cambage) and we added Brittney (Griner). I thought it was going to be a great match-up between the two of them.
“But, they’ve changed as a team pretty quickly. We saw them right after Liz got hurt, and they didn’t look so good in France. Now when you watch them, every game they’re getting better and better and better. Guys who were maybe kind of a role player before Liz got hurt are really playing, and really doing a lot. This is the semifinals of the World Championship. It’s supposed to be a really hard game, and it’s going to be.”
The last official, senior-level international contest between the two nations was won by the USA 86-73 in the 2012 Olympic semifinals. Trailing by four points at halftime, 47-43, the U.S. buckled down on defense in the second half to rally for a hard-fought win to advance to the gold medal game. The USA was led by 14 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the free throw line by Taurasi , and 14 points, 10 rebounds and four assists by Charles. Sue Bird (Seattle Storm) made 6-of-8 shots from the field for 13 points. After allowing Cambage 19 first-half points, the USA held her scoreless in the second half and cooled off Australia’s 60.6 percent (20-33 FGs) shooting from the field in the first 20 minutes to just 26.5 percent (9-34 FGs) after the midway point.
The USA’s halftime deficit marked the first time the American women had trailed at halftime in Olympic play since lagging behind Russia in the third game of the 2000 Olympics.
FIBA World Ranking: 2.
How Australia qualified: 2013 FIBA Oceania gold medalist (2-0 versus New Zealand).
World Championship appearances: 13 (1957, 1967, 1971, 1975, 1979, 1983, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010).
World Championship overall record: 64-40 (.615).
World Championship medals: 1 gold medal (2006), 2 bronze medals (1998, 2002).
Key players in 2013 FIBA Oceania Championship: Natalie Hurst (8.0 ppg., 7.5 rpg.), Lauren Jackson (21.5 ppg., 8.0 rpg.), Belinda Snell (11.0 ppg., 3.0 apg.), Marianna Tolo (6.5 ppg., 2.0 rpg., 1.5 apg.).
Australian players with WNBA experience: Laura (Summerton) Hodges (Connecticut Sun), Rachel Jarry (Minnesota Lynx), Leilani Mitchell (New York Liberty), Jenna O’Hea (Los Angeles Sparks), Erin Phillips (Indiana Fever), Belinda Snell (Seattle Storm), Penny Taylor (Phoenix Mercury).
USA vs. Australia at the World Championship: 9-0.
2012 Olympic finish: bronze medal (6-2).
Australia At The FIBA World Championship
Year Record Medal/Finish
2014 4- 0 ---
2010 7- 2 5th Place
2006 9- 0 Gold Medal
2002 7- 2 Bronze Medal
1998 8- 1 Bronze Medal
1994 4- 4 4th Place
1986 3- 4 9th Place
1990 3- 5 6th Place
1983 3- 4 11th Place
1975 4- 3 10th Place
1979 4- 3 4th Place
1971 5- 3 9th Place
1967 1- 5 10th Place
1957 2- 4 10th Place
Total 64-40 (.615)
USA vs. Australia @ Worlds
USA 9, Australia 0
W 83- 75 2010
W 71- 56 2002
W 100- 95 1994
W 88- 70 1994
W 76- 50 1986
W 74- 59 1979
W 65- 52 1975
W 60- 49 1971
W 42- 38 1967