SYDNEY (AP): Ezi Magbegor had 16 points and five blocks to help Australia beat Canada 75-72 on Monday night in the women’s World Cup.
The win caused a log-jam atop Group B with Australia, Canada and France all with three wins with one game left for each team.
“We knew coming into this it would be a tough group for us” Magbegor said. “Everything would count for us. We have another tough one tomorrow against Japan.”
Australia led 71-69 when Steph Talbot converted a reverse layup to extend the advantage. On Canada’s next possession, Magbegor blocked Natalie Achonwa’s shot right before the shot clock ran out.
Talbot then made two more free throws with 19.3 seconds left to make it 75-69. Nirra Fields hit a 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds left for the final margin.
In other games Monday, the U.S. set a World Cup record for points in a 145-69 win over South Korea. France and Belgium advanced to the quarterfinals with wins over Japan and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Serbia topped Mali 81-68 to keep alive its quarterfinal hopes. China routed Puerto Rico 95-60.
Australia trailed 33-19 with four minutes left in the first half before scoring the final 19 points of the period to lead by five at the break. Magbegor and Tess Madgen each had six points during the run.
“I knew (Ezi) would have his kind of game and I didn’t know when it would be,” said Sami Whitcomb, who had 15 points. “It was massive for us tonight, I’m so proud of her. She showed up when we needed her in the biggest moment.”
Canada rallied in the third quarter and led 57-51 before the Opals got going to take the lead and set up the tight finish.
Fields led Canada with 17 points.
Australia was missing Bec Allen, who injured her ribs late in the fourth quarter of the Opals game on Sunday against Serbia. The team said she was resting this game.
UNITED STATES 145, SOUTH KOREA 69
Brionna Jones scored 24 points, A’ja Wilson added 20 and the U.S. used a dominant inside effort for a record performance in the win over South Korea.
It broke the World Cup record of highest-scoring game, surpassing the 143 points Brazil had in 1990. It also shattered the previous U.S. mark of 119 points achieved against Angola in 2014 and China in 2006. The scoring margin was the biggest in U.S. history as well.
The win was the 26th in a row in World Cup play for the Americans, who haven’t lost since the 2006 semifinals when they fell to Russia. The U.S. also won 26 in a row from 1994-2006. The Soviet Union holds the World Cup record with 56 straight wins from 1959-1986.
Other U.S. records broken on Monday included the 62 field goals made, 36 assists and 94 points in the paint.
BELGIUM 85, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA 55
Hind Ben Abdelkader scored 18 points while Julie Vanloo and Kyara Linskens each added 13 to help Belgium reach the quarterfinals with the win over Bosnia and Herzegovina.
To win a medal, though, they’ll have to do it without star Emma Meesseman, who injured her left calf. She’s out for the remainder of the tournament, the team announced after the game.
The Belgian Cats (3-1) led 26-19 midway through the second quarter before going on an 11-3 run to close the half, capped by Vanloo’s 3-pointer with two seconds left. She scored seven points during the spurt.
The victory was the third straight for Belgium after losing to the U.S. in its opener. The Cats have now advanced to the quarterfinals in both of their World Cup appearances.
“It feels good because sometimes I think that we forget that we’re small Belgium and that is only our second women’s World Cup,” guard Julie Allemand said. “I think it’s something we can be proud of. Sometimes it’s like ‘Oh, this is normal’ but it’s not! We still have to win the games, we still have to get better and better and I think we can be proud of this.”
Nikolina Elez and Matea Tavic each scored 13 points to lead Bosnia and Herzegovina (0-4). Jonquel Jones was held to just eight points and eight rebounds. It was the first time in the tournament she didn’t score at least 15 points.
SERBIA 81, MALI 68
Sasa Cado scored 20 points and Tina Krajisnik added 17 to help Serbia top Mali and reach the quarterfinals.
Serbia (2-2) led 43-39 at the half before slowly pulling away in the third quarter. The Serbians led 62-50 heading into the final period and Mali could get no closer the rest of the way.
Sika Kone had 13 points and 11 rebounds for Mali (0-4), which is playing in its second World Cup. The African nation was a late replacement for Nigeria and went 1-4 in its other appearance in 2010.
FRANCE 67, JAPAN 53
Gabby Williams scored 16 points and France used stellar defense in the fourth quarter to beat Japan and advance to the quarterfinals.
Iliana Rupert added 15 points and 12 rebounds for France (3-1),
France led 48-46 18 seconds into the fourth quarter after Maki Takada made a layup. That would be the last points Japan would get until Saori Miyazaki’s layup with 1:53 left. The French scored 15 straight points over that nearly 8-minute stretch to blow the game open.
Japan (1-3) missed eight shots and had five turnovers during its drought.
Miyazaki scored 13 points to lead Japan. She was the only player in double figures for the team.
With the loss, the Tokyo Olympic silver medalists were eliminated from reaching the quarterfinals.
CHINA 95, PUERTO RICO 60
Li Yueru scored 16 points to lead a balanced China offense in a rout of Puerto Rico.
China (3-1) jumped out to an early lead and wouldn’t let Puerto Rico recover. The efficient Chinese offense had 39 assists on its 41 baskets.
Puerto Rico (1-3) can advance to the quarterfinals with a win over South Korea on Tuesday. With that in mind, most of the Puerto Rican starters played sparingly.
Trinity San Antonio led Puerto Rico with 19 points.