The almighty Team USA, fresh off their 87-72 win over Belgium, looked to continue their journey to title defense against Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico rode into this matchup with momentum. The Puerto Ricans defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina in dominating fashion, 82-58. This marked their first ever victory in the history of the FIBA Women's World Cup.
The USA crushed any momentum the Puerto Ricans brought over, defeating them 106-42.
The United States were shorthanded as they awaited the arrival of A'ja Wilson. Wilson's Aces teammates, Kelsey Plum and Chelsea Gray arrived in Sydney with congratulations from their USA teammates. They will be available to play tomorrow night against China.
Now onto the game.
The first quarter wasn't as dominant a showing as the first against Belgium. The US and Puerto Rico went back-and-forth with scoring for a good majority of the first. At one point, Mya Hollingshed sunk a two point jumper to tie it up at six. From that point on, it was all USA.
The US went on a 14-0 run until Hollingshed hit another jumper for Puerto Rico. USA continued their run, only allowing another three point from the Puerto Ricans, ending the first quarter up 27-11. Heavy emphasis on defense, with numerous stops, steals and blocks coming from Breanna Stewart and friends, and efficient shooting, especially from, from Jewell Loyd and Kahleah Copper, carried the first quarter.
Take the first quarter and copy and paste it to the second quarter. The only main difference between the two was who was on the court. The bench played an ever so present role in the quarter to continue the momentum. Ariel Atkins, who's a starter, got going with great defense and conversion on the other side. Shakira Austin joined the block party and there was a plethora of threes. They outscored Puerto Rico 27-10 heading into the half.
The US didn't lighten up on the Puerto Ricans even when they were up by 33, score of 54-31, at the half. In some ways that can be seen as rubbing it in the opponents' faces. On the other hand, it shows respect for their opponents. I can't speak for Puerto Rico but I feel like they wouldn't want to play against a team that's not putting 110% out on the floor. After all, it is a positive learning experience.
If you want a prime example of pure defensive play, look no further than the third quarter. The US forced two shot clock violations with their swarming defense. They also accumulated three steals in their effort. Puerto Rico was held to only 13 shot attempts and they made only made two. Arella Guirantes made Puerto Rico's first shot at the 6:58 mark. It took five minutes and 43 seconds for Puerto Rico to score anything else which came with two from the line. At the 16 second mark, Puerto Rico made their second field goal of the third quarter. All-in-all, the USA defense came to play. They outscored Puerto Rico 26-6 and lead them 80-27 heading into the fourth quarter.
Welcome to the fourth quarter where it wasn't as dominant as the third but still troublesome for Puerto Rico. It was primarily the bench show once again. If you didn't think the US was lethal from head-to-toe, look no further than how the bench played. Sabrina Ionescu finally got her first field goal of the World Cup and Shakira Austin went nuts. Remember, they're not even close to being at full strength yet.
The defense forced a five second violation and brought Puerto Rico's offense to a stand still until the end of their possessions. The US just kept going full steam ahead. It was the perfect scenario for fans to get a glimpse of the role players against international talent. Puerto Rico did score 15 in the fourth quarter against the USA's superior 26.
At the end of the night, the United States trounced Puerto Rico 106-42. They'll face China on September 23 at 11 pm central/September 24 at midnight eastern.