The easy part for the United States national team at the FIBA world championships is over.
Former UConn All-American and reigning WNBA Most Valuable Player Maya Moore had 13 of her 16 points in the first half as Team USA routed Angola 119-44 Tuesday in Istanbul, Turkey, to wrap up Group D play at 3-0.
"Obviously we knew there was a chance the game would be a little lopsided, but we weren’t really focused on that," USA guard Sue Bird said. "We were focused on ourselves and trying to get better. That’s always how it is with the national team, really. We never have a lot of time to practice. We never have a chance to really develop a chemistry, so we can’t take any night off, and that includes a game like this with a score as lopsided as it was."
By finishing as the top seed in the group, the Americans avoid Wednesday's play-in round and will have two days off before returning to action for the quarterfinals. They will face the winner of Wednesday's game between France and Brazil on Friday.
"We know France. We just played them recently," Team USA coach Geno Auriemma said. "I really haven’t seen Brazil much. Our coaches have gone out to see them. Either way, when you get to this point, into the quarterfinals, you get to the medal rounds, it’s not like you can afford to lose a game, you can’t afford to play poorly. You’re looking at one bad night and you go home. So, our players understand that and whoever we play, whether it’s France or Brazil, we’ll be ready."
As expected, Team USA had no problems with Angola (0-3).
A basket by former UConn All-American Tina Charles gave the Americans a 12-0 lead. After a 3-pointer by Angola, Team USA came up with a second 12-0 run as Moore's 3-pointer made it 24-3.
Team USA was 13-for-16 from the floor as its lead ballooned to 31-6. It was 33-11 after one quarter and 61-25 at halftime. Auriemma had inserted all of his 12 players into the game after just 13:33 and 11 of them -- all but guard Lindsay Whalen -- reached the scoring column in the first half.
The 75-point winning margin was the largest in USA history at the world championships while the point total of 119 matched the USA mark.
"If we had won by this much and we had played really poorly, I’d be a little disappointed," Auriemma said. "But I thought we played really, really well. I thought our offensive chemistry was really good. The ball moved really well. We got the ball in the lane a lot.
"I like the old format where we had six games before the medal round. It gave us more of an opportunity to be together and play games. This new format I don’t think helps us as much as the other format, but it is what it is. We have to get good real quick, and I think we’re going to be okay."
Nneka Ogwumike led the Americans with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Seimone Augustus and Brittney Griner added 15 points each. UConn junior All-American Breanna Stewart had nine points and six rebounds in 16 minutes. In three group games, Stewart averaged 3.7 points and 3.0 rebounds in 8.7 minutes.
In Group B, France used six straight points to break a 53-all fourth-quarter tie and held off Canada 63-59. UConn freshman Kia Nurse had four points on 2-for-8 shooting and three steals for Canada. In three group games, the Hamilton, Ontario, native averaged 4.3 points, 1.0 rebounds, and 1.3 steals in 21.3 minutes. Canada will take on the Czech Republic in the play-in round Wednesday.
(Quotes courtesy of USA Basketball)
GROUP D FINAL STANDINGS: United States 3-0, Serbia 2-1, China 1-2, Angola 0-3.
WEDNESDAY'S PLAY-IN GAMES (all times EDT)Czech Republic vs. Canada, 9:15 a.m.
France vs. Brazil, noon
Belarus vs. China, 12:15 p.m.
Serbia vs. Cuba, 2:30 p.m.
FRIDAY'S QUARTERFINALSGame 1: Czech Republic/Canada winner vs. Australia
Game 2: France/Brazil winner vs. United States
Game 3: Belarus/China winner vs. Spain
Game 4: Serbia/Cuba winner vs. Turkey
SATURDAY'S SEMIFINALSGame 1 quarterfinal winner vs. Game 2 quarterfinal winner
Game 3 quarterfinal winner vs. Game 4 quarterfinal winner
SUNDAYBronze medal gameSemifinal losers
Gold medal gameSemifinal winners