USA Blows By Belarus Early, Takes 107-61 World Championship Victory
Sept. 28 • Ostrava, Czech Republic
Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun) and Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury) earned spots in the starting lineup and did not disappoint. The duo accounted for the USA’s first 10 points as the USA Basketball Women’s World Championship Team (5-0) ran out to a 23-6 lead and never looked back en route to beating Belarus (2-3) 107-61 in the second round of the 2010 FIBA World Championship on Tuesday night in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
"I think anybody that coach decides to put in the starting lineup wants to go out and get the first punch, be the aggressor out there,” said Charles, who finished with eight points. “Candice and I took the opportunity to go out and play hard. We were just going to do all the things that coach wants us to do and expects from us individually.”
Ten team members scored at least eight points against Belarus and Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky) led five U.S. players in double-digit scoring with 15 points after shooting a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and 5-of-6 from the line. Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) netted both her 3-point tries and notched 14 points; Dupree, who scored eight points in the first quarter, closed the night with 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field; while Swin Cash (Seattle Storm) and Maya Moore (University of Connecticut) topped out with 11 points each.
“One of the things that is difficult about playing against us when we substitute, when we go to the bench and the team doesn’t change that much,” said USA and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma. “So it puts a tremendous pressure on the other team to have to keep up with that, and it’s very difficult. We’re fortunate. We’re lucky that we have some really good players who want to play together. They’re unselfish. They want to share the ball, like they did tonight. We made a couple changes in the starting lineup just to give us a new look, and it worked great.”
The game was virtually in the books after the first quarter ended with the American women holding a commanding 37-11 lead. After the team’s 23-6 opening run, Belarus hit a three and that was followed by another U.S. run, 14-2, to close out the quarter. Shooting a red-hot 71.4 percent (15-21 FGs) from the field, the Americans scored 26 points in the paint and totaled 11 on the fast break after nabbing six steals in the first 10 minutes. Further, the defense held the Europeans to 31.3 percent from the field (5-16 FGs) during the opening stretch.
“We came out strong tonight,” said Fowles. “We had no let downs from the jump ball, and that’s something that we have been lacking the last couple of games that we’ve been here. The first five went out with a lot of energy, and we brought a lot of energy from the bench and just tried to keep up the intensity.”
By halftime the USA’s lead was 30 points, 58-28, and 11 players were on the scoreboard, including Dupree with 10. At the midway break the USA’s rebounding advantage was 21-10, the U.S. had 13 assists on 23 field goals and 11 steals off Belarus’ 14 turnovers.
The USA, whose largest lead was the final 46-point difference, outscored Belarus 27-16 in the third quarter and 22-17 in the fourth.
“You always want to get a great start going into games, or at the start of games, and I think the more we’ve been able to play with each other in these games, the more comfortable we’ve gotten and tonight was just proof of that,” said Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), who dished out four of the USA’s 24 assists. “For some of us, we only got here a week ago, so everything is still kind of new. But tonight I think we took a step in the right direction.”
By the end of the night, the unselfish and dominating performance produced the USA’s 15th 100-point game in FIBA World Championship history and second at the 2010 Worlds. Overall, the U.S. had 13 steals, forced 21 Belaurus turnovers, and outrebounded the Europeans 41-21.
The team’s sizzling 68.3 shooting percentage (41-60 FGs) was just shy of the USA’s all-time record of 69.4 percent (50-72 FGs) set in 1986. Tonight also marked the USA’s best 3-point shooting night at the 2010 Worlds as the squad knocked down 5-of-9 for 55.6 percent; whereas the U.S. limited Belarus to just 34.4 percent (21-61 FGs) from the field and 31.8 percent (7-22 3pt FGs) from 3-point.
The Americans ended the night earning 23 points off turnovers, receiving 56 points in the paint and 20 of their points came in transition.
The USA will close second round play against also undefeated Australia (5-0) at 8:15 p.m. (2:15 p.m. EDT) on Sept. 29. All of the USA games will air live on NBA TV, and fans can also watch live streaming of all FIBA World Championship games at www.FIBATV.com.
“I expect the game to be very physical and a very up-tempo game,” said Fowles. “They are a very good team, and the USA has to bring our A-game and be ready.”
In today’s other Group E second round action, Greece (2-3) earned a 57-52 win over Canada (1-4), and Australia (5-0) pulled away from France (3-2) in the fourth quarter for an eventual 62-52 win. In Brno, where Group F is playing its second round, Brazil (2-3) picked up a second win after edging Japan (1-4) 93-91 in overtime, Spain (5-0) continued its unbeaten streak with a 77-57 win over host Czech Republic (4-1), while Russia (5-0) also remained unbeaten with a 81-48 defeat of South Korea (2-3)
In the 13th-16th place classification semifinal games contested in Karlovy Vary, China (1-3) picked up a 71-69 win over Senegal (0-4) and Argentina (1-3) earned its first win with a 53-49 finish over Mali (0-4). China and Argentina will square off tomorrow for 13th place, while Mali and Senegal play in the 15th place game.
The medal round will be played in Karlovy Vary, with the quarterfinals scheduled for Oct. 1, the semifinals on Oct. 2 and the medal games played on Oct. 3.
Assisting Auriemma and the USA National Team through the 2010 FIBA World Championship are DePaul University head coach Doug Bruno, Los Angeles Sparks head coach Jennifer Gillom and Atlanta Dream head coach / general manager Marynell Meadors.
Not only is a gold medal at stake, but the gold medalists will earn a berth to the 2012 Olympic Games.
Should the U.S. not finish with the gold medal in ‘10, it would have two additional chances to qualify for the Olympics: the 2011 FIBA Americas Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD) and 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament (dates and site TBD).