A rampant United States set a new all-time women’s basketball World Cup scoring record yesterday with a 145-69 demolition of South Korea, while Belgium, France and China all booked their place in the quarter-finals.
Eight of the Americans’ 12-strong roster hit double figures, led by Brionna Jones with 24 points, eight rebounds and one assist in Sydney.
A’ja Wilson drilled 20 points and Breanna Stewart 18 as the three-time defending champions ran riot with an overwhelming defensive display. Shakira Austin netted a field goal with just seconds left to ensure the record, which was previously held by Brazil, who crushed Malaysia 143-50 in a group game at the 1990 tournament.
“I thought we got off to a bit of a slower start than we wanted, but we had a group that came in that really changed things for us,” said USA coach Cheryl Reeve, whose all-conquering team beat their previous best of 119 points. “We got more pressure and I think our size was a problem for them and I thought we shared the ball well.”
The United States, who had already qualified for the quarter-finals, were on another level, passing 30 or more points in all four frames against a Korean team that has struggled without marquee star Park Ji-su.
“It was huge,” said Wilson after the team shot an outstanding 66 percent from the field. “I think everyone scored and that’s the beauty of it. It comes from everyone, from one to 12.”
Defeat left the Asian side facing a crunch Group A game today against Puerto Rico with a quarter-final slot at stake.
“I try to focus on how we played rather than the result of the game. I wanted our players to show their best ability and confidence on the court,” said Korean coach Jung Sun-min. “Individually I think we played very hard and very well today.”
Point guard Hind Ben Abdelkader poured in 18 points for Belgium as they ended Bosnia and Herzegovina’s tournament dreams.
Aiming to better their fourth place in 2018, they swept home 85-55 to join the United States and China in the last eight from Group A.
Kyara Linskens and Julie Vanloo both chipped in with 13 points for their third straight win of the 10-day competition after an opening day loss to the United States.
Defeat ended any hope the Bosnians had in a hugely disappointing debut tournament, where they leaked 364 points over four consecutive defeats, with Belgium successfully blunting the threat posed by dangerwoman Jonquel Jones.
“We played a very good defence on Jones and as a team we were very focused,” said Belgium coach Valery Demory.
The top four teams from each of the two groups progress to the quarter-finals, with China also through after easing past Puerto Rico 95-60 with Li Yueru leading the way on 16 points and eight rebounds. Serbia kept their hopes alive in a tough Group B, beating Mali 81-68 to end the African team’s tournament.
Canada were already through but lost their unbeaten streak against hosts and 2018 finalists Australia, who narrowly won a physical game 75-72 to put them on the cusp of the last eight.
“We didn’t play our best basketball, but we found a way to win,” said Australia coach Sandy Brondello, with Steph Talbot bagging 11 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
Olympic bronze medallists France went through by overcoming Japan 67-53. They face a must-win match against Australia today.
Team USA celebrates their win after the Women’s Basketball World Cup group A game against South Korea in Sydney yesterday. (AFP)