July 19, 2013
PANEVĖˇYS, Lithuania -- The USA held China to nine points in the second quarter, using stout defense to ignite a runaway 103-56 victory in pool play on Friday at the 2013 FIBA World Championship for Women.
The Americans held a 23-18 advantage after the opening stanza, but a 21-9 second period blitz propelled the USA to a commanding 44-27 lead at the break. Scoring differentials of 29-13 and 30-16 in the final two periods added up to a 47-point victory for head coach Katie Meier's squad.
"Our effort and our focus on defense has just been incredible these first two games," USA Head Coach Katie Meier said. "It starts with our leadership. I feel like they communicate so well as a team. They cover for each other. So, I'm sure it's hard for the other teams to figure out what we're playing and what we're in because I'm letting them play to their instincts a lot and they're wonderfully instinctive players."
After posting 13 points and seven boards vs. Lithuania on Monday, Tennessee's Bashaara Graves didn't have quite the stat line vs. the Chinese, but then she didn't need to in the dominating win. The rising Lady Vol sophomore connected on one of two attempts from the field to score two points. She also contributed two rebounds, two assists and a steal in 20 minutes of play.
UConn's Breanna Stewart once again set the scoring pace for the USA, firing in 20 points. She knocked down six of eight field goal attempts and all six charity tosses. Stewart also tallied four steals, three rebounds and an assist in 22 minutes of duty.
The Americans connected on 54 percent of their shots from the field, hitting 43 of 80, and also sank 13 of 14 free throws for 93 percent accuracy. They were equally adept at corralling loose balls, our-rebounding China, 47-21.
"At halftime we said we had a nice lead but it wasn't comfortable enough, not with a team that could shoot the three so well, it was only 17 points," Meier said." Towards the end of the half when we stretched the lead a little bit, we were rebounding and trying to get out quickly and we weren't finishing the rebounds. So, at halftime we said, `listen, secure the ball before we take off. Really commit to the boards.' China only had seven offensive rebounds the whole game, so I think we were much more physical in the second half. We finished the plays and then ran. So, it was a lot more high level. Our timing was a lot better."
After outscoring China 4-2 to open the second half, the USA's foes strung together five straight points and the score stood at 48-34 at 7:25. However, the U.S. turned up its defensive pressure, which resulted in a 17-0 scoring spree, nine of which came from Stewart. That run completely cracked China and put the game well in hand, 65-34, with 13:03 still to play.
By the end of the third quarter the USA was up 70-43. The lead ballooned to 48 points, 97-47 with 3:15 to play, before the U.S. cruised in for the win.
The dominance was especially notable in the specialty stat categories, as USA won points in the paint, 68-26, second chance points, 24-2, and points off turnovers, 26-4.
The U.S. concludes preliminary round play against Mali on Saturday at 1:15 p.m. ET (8:15 p.m. EET). Live stats will be available at www.fibalivestats.com