USA Women Earn 84-75 Win Over Belgium in FIBA World Cup Qualifying Action
- USA - Belgium Box Score
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- FIBA Women's World Cup Qualifying Tournament Results/Schedue
The 2022 USA Basketball Women’s World Cup Qualifying Team (1-0) earned an 84-75 victory over Belgium (1-1) on Friday evening at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington, D.C., which marked the USA Women’s National Team’s first win under the leadership of 2022-24 USA head coach Cheryl Reeve (Minnesota Lynx).
“It was a game that I thought we played well, early on,” Reeve said. “I thought our defense was difficult to play against through much of the first half, and it kind of helped us get through some of our unfamiliarity with one another offensively. As we worked through that, we got some good flow. We just didn't carry it over into the second half, particularly the fourth quarter, our defense was really poor. Overall, I thought that we made things difficult for their best player (Emma Meesseman), and that was a goal. I thought, overall, we accomplished some of the things we wanted to get done.”
Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces)led the USA with 16 points after shooting a perfect 5-of-5 from the field, including two 3-pointers, and 4-of-4 from the free throw line. Playing with her first USA Women’s National Team squad Brionna Jones (Connecticut Sun) added 14 points and six rebounds, and Chelsea Gray (Las Vegas Aces) contributed 10 points and dished out eight assists.
“I think that we made some good steps,” Plum said. “But like coach said, I thought we took our foot off the gas in the second half in the fourth quarter, and, you know, 30 points in the fourth quarter is too many. So, we're going to have to clean that up for tomorrow.”
The USA will close out its FIBA World Cup Qualifying Tournament games against Puerto Rico (0-1) on Feb. 12 (4:30 p.m. EST). Tickets still are available and range from $10 (plus Ticketmaster fees) for general admission to $100 (plus Ticketmaster fees) for courtside seating and are on sale via Ticketmaster.com and USAB.com/tickets. Fans can save 25% by purchasing tickets online by using promo code “FIBA22” at checkout.
The USA built a 15-9 lead to start the game, but Belgium closed with a 6-0 run to tie the score, 15-15, at the first intermission. Belgium had six first-period turnovers but outrebounded the USA 13-10.
Opening the second quarter with a 10-2 run, the USA led 25-17 at 7:47. Belgium cut the lead to four points, 25-21 at 6:02, but the USA quickly restored a double-digit lead, 32-21, with a 3-pointer from Plum and points from Dearica Hamby (Las Vegas Aces), who finished with nine points in her USA Basketball debut. And at halftime, the USA led 38-26.
Outscoring Belgium 25-18 in the third quarter, the USA shot a red-hot 68.8% from the field in the period to take a 63-44 lead into the last 10 minutes.
Belgium rallied and outproduced the USA 31-21 in the final stanza, coming as close as eight points – 81-73 at 1:46 – but the USA held off the comeback attempt for the 84-75 win.
“It was exciting to play and just show what I can do on this stage,” Jones said. “Playing under coach Reeve is amazing, just getting that perspective from her is great, and I'm just excited to keep going.”
While the teams were relatively even in shooting percentage, 51.6% for the USA and 50.0% for Belgium, and rebounding, where the USA had a narrow, 34-33 edge, the USA turned Belgium’s 17 turnovers into 21 points, while Belgium only scored nine points from 13 U.S. turnovers.
The game marked the 70th-straight victory for the USA National Team program in official FIBA competitions, dating to the 2006 FIBA World Cup bronze medal game. In addition to the 2006 bronze medal, the streak includes four Olympic, three World Cup and two AmeriCup gold medals and six 2020 Olympic qualifying games.
“We know Belgium – it wasn't going to be easy,” Gray said. “Basketball is a game of runs, and so you saw them able to knock down shots and their capabilities in the fourth quarter. They're well coached, they've been playing together for a long period of time, but at the end of the day, we got to just find a way to win the game.”
WNBA head coaches Vickie Johnson (Dallas Wings) and Mike Thibault (Washington Mystics) are serving as assistant coaches, and Curt Miller (Connecticut Sun) and James Wade (Chicago Sky) are supporting the team as court coaches and team scouts.
The top three finishing teams from each of the four FIBA qualifying tournaments will advance to the 2022 FIBA World Cup. In addition to Washington, D.C., qualifying events are being held in Osaka, Japan, and Belgrade, Serbia, where two tournaments are being played.
In the first game in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 10, Puerto Rico (0-1) fell to Belgium 98-65.
In the Feb. 10 games played in Belgrade, Serbia, Australia (1-0) defeated Brazil (0-1) 65-52, China (2-0) downed Nigeria (1-1) 90-76, France (1-1) beat Mali (0-2) 77-66 and host Serbia (1-0) held off South Korea (0-1) 65-62. On Feb. 11 in Belgrade, China defeat Mali 84-64, and Nigeria edged out France 67-65.
In Osaka, Japan, host Japan (1-0) came back from a 20-point deficit to push Canada (0-1) to overtime and finished out with an 86-79 win on Feb. 10.