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Sports

US down China to reach women's basketball World Cup quarter-finals

Agence France-Presse
US down China to reach women's basketball World Cup quarter-finals
Kelsey Plum of the US competes with China's Han Xu (R) during the Women's Basketball World Cup group A game between China and the USA in Sydney on September 24, 2022.
SAEED KHAN / AFP

SYDNEY — Titleholders United States surged into the women's basketball World Cup quarterfinals on Saturday with a comfortable 77-63 victory over China in Sydney to extend their remarkable record.

After crushing Belgium and Puerto Rico, the Americans faced a trickier Group A test against an emerging China who were tipped to be the United States' biggest threat to an 11th world title. 

But the three-time defending champions led throughout in front of a capacity 21,000 crowd. 

The mighty US notched their 25th consecutive win at the World Cup, stretching back to 2010, and became the first team to qualify for the final eight. 

They set up their victory with a dominant 44-25 first-half before thwarting China's late rally. 

A'ja Wilson (20 points, eight rebounds) and Chelsea Gray (12 points, six rebounds) starred on their debuts in the 10-day tournament. 

United States coach Cheryl Reeve praised her team's defence, which stymied a China side who had hit the century mark in their previous wins against South Korea and Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

"Our defence continues to be stellar. We were hard to play against and that's our identity," she said. 

Li Meng (21 points) and Wang Siyu (17 points) led a gritty China, who fell to a 2-1 record. 

"It was a big difference from the first two games. Our players will learn a lot from this game," said China coach Zheng Wei.

Boasting youthful talent and a high-octane style, China were widely tipped to test the US.

But the Americans had all the answers and were boosted by the returns of Wilson, Gray and Kelsey Plum, who made their first appearances after arriving in Sydney jet-lagged early Friday following Las Vegas Aces' victory in the WNBA Finals. 

Gray showed no signs of weariness with a three-pointer for the hot-shooting United States, who raced out to an 11-0 lead within two minutes.  

Willed on by rowdy fans in the stands, China desperately tried to stay afloat but forward Alyssa Thomas dominated around the basket to stretch United States' advantage at half-time. 

The Americans were uncharacteristically cold from the field in the third quarter and China capitalised to get within single digits.

But the United States put the foot down with the first nine points of the final quarter and snuffed out China's late challenge to maintain their unbeaten record.    

The top four teams from each of the two groups progress to the quarter-finals.

Group A action continues on Saturday with Belgium and Puerto Rico both hunting a second victory, while winless Bosnia and Herzegovina and South Korea are hoping to open their accounts.

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