September 26, 2022
What led Team USA to scoring a single-game record 145 points
Americans break Brazil's record for points in a World Cup game
Team USA is still finding records to break and achieving smaller goals, while being undefeated through its first four games of the FIBA World Cup in Sydney. The Americans dominated Korea, 145-69, on Monday and will close out the group stage at midnight ET on Tuesday against winless Bosnia and Herzegovina (and former WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones).
The game was a matchup of the two national teams that have participated in 16 consecutive World Cups. Korea looked good shooting the ball to start the game and trailed only 32-21 at the end of the first quarter. However, the U.S. would go on to shoot 66 percent and record 38 points off turnovers in creating the highest-scoring game in World Cup history. Brazil scored 143 points against Malaysia in 1990, which was the previous record. The 62 shots bettered the 47 the U.S. made in defeating Korea in 1994. The margin of victory was one more than Team USA’s 119-44 win over Angola in 2014.
“I thought our size and ability to get points in the paint… was a problem for them,” U.S. coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We wanted to add another layer to our defense and our ability to press, and we had a group out there that was really good at it. Overall, we wanted to run our baseline out of bounds plays better, that was a targeted goal. We wanted to play a little bit differently when we swung the ball. We away screened and had some good action there. There were little things we had as goals that I think we accomplished.”
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Brionna Jones led the game with 24 points and was tied with three others with eight rebounds. This comes after not playing in the win over China two days earlier.
“She is not somebody that is not going to see the floor,” Reeve said of Jones. “She is so relentless in the paint. Second chances, she was a big part of that. She was able to get her minutes in and get reflections. Her minutes were excellent, her efficiency, being able to follow A’ja (Wilson).”
Wilson was only playing in her second game of the World Cup after winning the WNBA championship a week earlier. She arrived in time for the China game on Friday and recorded 20 points and eight rebounds in both matches.
“Everyone scored, and that is the beauty of it,” Wilson said. “It comes from all of us. Now that we have a complete team, it just feels better, we are starting to mesh, starting to click. This is huge. I don’t think I have ever been a part of a team that can score the basketball this crazy. We come together and play together very well, and it speaks volumes of where this team is going. We are really in a good place.”
Where Korea goes from here
Even after the blowout loss, the Koreans are still having a successful tournament. Forward Kang Lee-seul is fourth in the World Cup in scoring and recorded 37 points in her team’s win over Bosnia and Herzegovina. If they beat Puerto Rico on Tuesday, South Korea would advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2010, and just the third instance in the past 10 World Cups. Puerto Rico lost to China on Monday, 95-60, and can also advance with a win.
“Puerto Rico has the same situation now,” Korea coach Jung Sun-min said, “I think it is the most important game for both of the teams, so I will try to tell them what they have on the court. It’s not how we play on the court, but it’s how we stop pressure, so I will make them prepare for tomorrow’s game.”
Arella Guirantes of Puerto Rico is leading the World Cup with 72 points through four games. She was first in scoring average, before Wilson scored 20 in her two games.
China and Belgium play in the other Group A close out match, with each team 3-1. The winner will secure the second seed going into the quarterfinals.
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Written by Scott Mammoser
Scott Mammoser started out covering the Niagara University women's basketball team in 2002. He went on to cover FIBA World Cups in Turkey and Spain, Under-19 World Cups in Thailand and Spain, the Asia Cup in China, as well as major international events for World Athletics and the International Skating Union. He has been to six Olympics and traveled to more than 80 countries.