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Jewell Loyd

USA Women Race Past Puerto Rico 93-55 To Wrap Up FIBA World Cup Qualifying Play

  • Date:
    Feb 12, 2022

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Jumping out to a 33-8 first-quarter lead, the USA’s (2-0) victory never was in doubt during a 93-55 win over Puerto Rico (0-2) that concluded its play in FIBA World Cup Qualifying Tournament action on Saturday afternoon at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington, D.C.

The USA, which already had qualified for the 2022 FIBA World Cup as Olympic champions, will join host Australia and 10 other nations at the World Cup from Sept. 22-Oct. 1 in Sydney.

“I thought we did follow the game plan pretty well,” said USA head coach Cheryl Reeve (Minnesota Lynx). “Defensively, I thought we were on point. Offensively, we got an awful lot of good looks that we just didn't make. But what we did better in the third quarter was we started to grab some offensive rebounds for second chances. Overall, once we got through the second quarter, I thought the effort was there on our intentional parts of the game plan.”

With 14 points, Ariel Atkins (Washington Mystics) led six U.S. scorers in double digits. Allisha Gray (Dallas Wings) had 13 points, Brionna Jones (Connecticut Sun) scored 12 points to go with six rebounds, Dearica Hamby (Las Vegas Aces) had 10 points and six boards, Kelsey Mitchell (Indiana Fever) contributed 10 points and Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm) scored all of her 10 points in the first quarter. In total, the USA got 53 points off its bench.

“I think we found a way to pick it up after kind of letting down in the second quarter,” Atkins said. “We did a better job of talking to each other, kind of talking each other through things, and that's something that we talked about.”

The USA opened the game shooting 54.2% from the field (13-24 FGs), and eight U.S. players tallied points in the first 10 minutes as the USA built a 33-8 advantage. The USA cooled off to 33.3% shooting in the second period, while Puerto Rico outrebounded the USA 17-8 to help outscore the USA 19-16 in the quarter. Still, at halftime the USA was comfortably ahead 49-27.

The USA outscored Puerto Rico 24-17 in the third period and 20-11 in the fourth quarter for the 93-55 win. The USA restored its dominance inside the paint in the second half, which saw the USA record 27 rebounds while allowing Puerto Rico just 10. Additionally, while the USA committed just six turnovers for the game, the U.S. defense forced Puerto Rico into 19 turnovers, which led to 27 of the USA’s points, and held Puerto Rico to 36.9% shooting from the field.

“New system, new players,” Loyd said. “We are trying to get to know each other a little bit. I think today our offense looked a lot better. We were able to communicate a little bit better, talk a little bit more on defense. We've had two good games. Obviously, we wanted to improve on stuff that we didn’t really execute in the first game, but I think overall, we came back pretty strong, and we were definitely motivated.”

The game marked the 71st-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, six 2020 Olympic qualifying games and the two games in Washington, D.C.

WNBA head coaches Vickie Johnson (Dallas Wings) and Mike Thibault (Washington Mystics) served as assistant coaches, and Curt Miller (Connecticut Sun) and James Wade (Chicago Sky) supported the team as court coaches and team scouts. 

“This was a really good start,” Reeve said of looking forward to the USA’s participation in the FIBA World Cup later this year. “It's like you think about how you'd want your first time to go – the start of a new quad, a new coach. I couldn't have asked for anything more in terms of the way they approached it, their energy. Each time we got together, we wanted to improve upon something, and we did. So, this coach is really happy.”

The top three finishing teams from each of the four FIBA World Cup Qualifying Tournaments will advance to the 2022 FIBA World Cup. The remaining qualified teams will be determined following the conclusion of games on Feb. 14.

Also playing in the Washington, D.C. group are Belgium (1-1) and Russia (0-0). Competing in the Belgrade, Serbia, Group A are Australia (1-0), Brazil (0-2), Serbia (1-0) and South Korea (1-1). Belgrade Group B consists of China (2-0), France (1-1), Mali (0-2) and Nigeria (1-1). And, competing in Osaka, Japan, are Bosnia and Herzegovina (0-1), Canada (1-1) and Japan (1-0).


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