A’ja Wilson scored 19 points, Kelsey Plum added 17 and the US beat China 83-61 yesterday to win their fourth consecutive gold medal at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup.
This is one of the most dominant teams in the US’ storied history in the World Cup, at which the Americans have won 11 gold medals. They have now won four straight gold medals for the first time ever.
This was also the biggest win in a gold-medal game, surpassing the 20-point wins that the US had twice accomplished.
“It feels great,” said Wilson, who was selected as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
“We came here on a mission, we got it. We got gold. Now we’re going home with some hardware,” she said. “It feels great to us. Australia was great to us. I didn’t see any kangaroos, but it’s okay because we are leaving with a gold.”
What started with Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi has now been passed down to Wilson and Breanna Stewart. With Alyssa Thomas the oldest player at 30, the domination could continue for years to come.
As they have done all tournament, the US did it on both ends of the court, playing stellar defense and using a high-powered offense.
The US (8-0) finished the World Cup averaging 98.8 points — just short of the mark held by the 1994 team that averaged 99.1. They won by an average of 40.8 points, topping the mark held by the 2010 team.
The game was a sellout with nearly 16,000 spectators — the biggest crowd to attend a Women’s World Cup game since the inaugural tournament in 1953 in Chile.
Led by Li Yueru and Wu Tongtong, China hung around. The Chinese team trailed 33-28 late in the second quarter before the US went on a 10-2 run highlighted by fast-break layups by Stewart and Wilson to extend the advantage to double-digits.
Jin Weina hit a three-pointer just before the halftime buzzer to get China back to within 10.
The US were just too good to let the upset happen, outscoring China 25-14 in the third. The Americans did have one scary moment when Thomas went down after a collision with Li in the lane. She was helped off the court, but returned a few minutes later.
China won its first medal since the 1994 World Cup when the team also took the silver. They are a rising power in women’s basketball. After the game, they posed for a photograph with their flag and men’s great Yao Ming, president of the Chinese Basketball Association.
Li finished with 19 points and Wu added 13 before leaving the game in the fourth quarter after her knee gave out driving to the basket. She had to be carried off the court.
The victory was the 30th in a row in World Cup play for the US, who have not lost since the 2006 semi-finals against Russia.
The Soviet Union holds the World Cup record with 56 straight wins from 1959 to 1986.
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