USA Runs Away With 106-44 Quarterfinal Victory Over South Korea
Oct. 1, 2010 • Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic
Behind six players who scored in double digits, the USA Basketball Women’s World Championship Team (7-0) continued its unbeaten streak by opening up a 48-22 halftime lead en route to dismantling South Korea (3-4) 106-44 in the 2010 FIBA World Championship medal quarterfinals on Friday afternoon in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic.
With the win, the U.S. advances to the medal semifinals and will face on Oct. 2 the winner of tonight’s quarterfinal game between France (4-2) and Spain (5-1). The USA was the only one of the world’s top three teams to advance to the medal semifinals after both host Czech Republic (5-2) and Belarus (4-3) pulled off stunning upsets today, with wins over defending World Champion Australia and Russia, respectively.
With the loss of two of the world’s top three teams today, this year’s medal stand will have a decidedly different look. Australia, 2006 silver medalist Russia and the United States, bronze medalists in ’06, have collected all available FIBA World Championship medals since 1998. In ‘98and again in 2002 the U.S. won gold, Russia took silver and Australia bronze.
Times for the semis are 6:30 p.m. (12:30 p.m. EDT) and 8:45 p.m. (2:45 p.m. EDT), and the order of the games will be determined following tonight’s last contest. The gold and bronze medal games will be played on Oct. 3.
Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream) paced the USA’s offensive attack with 17 points; Maya Moore (University of Connecticut) had 15 points and three blocked shots, Candice Dupree (Phoenix Mercury) posted a double-double with 12 points and 16 boards, Swin Cash (Seattle Storm) scored 11 points, while Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun) and Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky) chipped in 10 points apiece.
“The beginning of the game, we knew we had a big advantage over them, size-wise, quickness-wise, and we are obviously a much deeper team,” said USA and University of Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma. “We have more options. Korea was down to nine players, so it was very difficult for them to try to do anything with some of our players. But we didn’t want to start the game and not be ready and not be 100 percent.”
With the win the U.S. has now advanced to nine consecutive World Championship medal semifinals, dating back to the 1979 Worlds in which University of Tennessee’s Pat Summitt coached the U.S. to gold. The American women, who now own a 95-21 (.819) all-time record since the first FIBA World Championship was held in 1953, have posted an even more impressive 66-5 (.930) win-loss mark dating back to the 1979 Worlds.
Charles scored four points in the USA’s 6-0 opening run. South Korea got on the board with a jumper at 8:04, but it was clear from the start the Asian squad was overmatched. With the score reading 8-4, the U.S. put together an 11-2 spurt to expand the lead to 19-6 at 4:37. Following a time out, which Auriemma used to send in a fresh five, the bench players closed out the quarter by outscoring South Korea 9-5 to go up 28-11 at the first break.
“Today we came out with a lot of energy, a lot of focus,” said USA tri-captain Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever), who finished with six points and three assists in 14 minutes. “We knew that South Korea, they’re known for moving around a lot, the player screens and different kinds of screens that we haven’t seen in awhile. As a team, we had each other’s back for 40 minutes. From one to 12 everybody came out and everybody was ready to play.”
South Korea had no answer for the USA’s size and depth, and by the midway point the game was virtually in the bank, 48-22. In the first half, the American women owned a 28-12 advantage on the glass, collected 12 points off of 10 South Korean turnovers, had 11 second-chance points and 12 off of the fast break.
If South Korea fostered any hopes of a comeback in the second half, they were quickly dashed. The U.S. stormed out of the locker room on a 10-0 tear, six of which came from Dupree. Following a 3-pointer on the other end, South Korea’s first of just three field goals in the 10-minute span, the U.S. scored the next four points to up its lead to 63-25. At 4:45 the Koreans got a second basket of the period before the American women reeled off 20 unanswered points to open up a commanding 83-27 gap. South Korea sank its third field goal of the quarter with 10 seconds remaining, and the buzzer sounded with the U.S. up 83-29.
“We knew what we were doing,” said Moore. “It was one of those things where we found that sweet spot in our offense, and we just kept going there -- that high post. And when we get into the middle like that against a zone, things open up. You get open threes, you get short little jumpers, you get and-ones, so I think we did a great job of continuing to go with what was working.”
The USA cruised through the fourth quarter as the squad posted its third 100-point game of the tournament.
“We know that just because the score is 100-something to 60-something, that doesn’t matter,” said McCoughtry. We’re trying every possession to get better because we are looking forward to the next step. It’s really about the next step.”
To say that the U.S. owned the glass against South Korea would be an understatement as the red, white and blue held a lopsided 59-16 advantage. The USA hit a red-hot 57.1 percent (44-77 FGs) of its tries from the field, while holding the Koreans to 30.6 percent (19-62 FGs) overall. The USA also produced 20 points off of 10 Korean turnovers, 23 second-chance points, 20 points in transition and a whopping 72 in the paint. Further, the depth of the U.S. squad was underscored by 71 points from its bench.
“The starting five was great,” added Auriemma. “We really set a tone and everybody that came in just added to it and added to it. So we’re very excited about the win, obviously. We’re really excited about being in the semifinals tomorrow night. It should be a great game, regardless of who we play, whether it’s France or whether it’s Spain, it’s going to be a great game.”
Czech Republic went up early and held off Australia (5-2) 79-68, while Belarus earned its semifinal berth after taking out previously unbeaten Russia (6-1) 70-53.
The USA’s final two games will air live on NBA TV, and fans can also watch live streaming of all FIBA World Championship games at www.FIBATV.com.
“Our final goal is obviously to win a gold medal,” said USA tri-captain Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury), who scored seven points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out a game-best four of the USA’s 16 assists. “But we understand that we need to take each step one at a time. Tomorrow’s game will be very difficult task. Whether it’s Spain or France, we know it’s going to be a difficult game.”
In classification play today, Japan (2-5) defeated Greece (2-5) 63-59, while Brazil (3-4) downed Canada (1-6) 64-58. Japan next will face Brazil for ninth place, and Greece will take on Canada in the 11th place game on Saturday.
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 in Karlovy Vary, but the gold medalists will earn a berth to the 2012 Olympic Games.
Should the U.S. not finish with the gold medal on Sunday, 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).