US set record with 145-69 thumping of South Korea

SYDNEY (Agencies): A rampant United States set a new all-time women’s basketball World Cup scoring record Monday with a 145-69 demolition of South Korea, while Belgium booked their place in the quarter-finals.

Eight of the Americans’ 12-strong roster hit doubles figures, led by Brionna Jones with 24 points, eight rebounds and one assist in Sydney. A’ja Wilson drilled 20 points and Breanna Stewart 18 as the three-time defending champions ran riot, with Shakira Austin netting a field goal with just seconds left to ensure the record. It was previously held by Brazil, who crushed Malaysia 143-50 in a group game at the 1990 tournament.

“I thought we got off to a bit of a slower start than we wanted, but we had a group that came in that really changed things for us,” said USA coach Cheryl Reeve, whose team are gunning for an 11th title overall.

“We got more pressure and I think our size, the number of points we got in the paint was 90 or something. So our size was a problem for them and I thought we shared the ball well.” The United States, who had already qualified for the quarter-finals, were on another level both offensively and defensively, passing 30 or more points in all four frames against a Korean team that has struggled without marquee star Park Ji-su.

Defeat left the Asian side facing a crunch Group A game on Tuesday against Puerto Rico with a quarter-final slot at stake. “I try to focus on how we played rather than the result of the game. I wanted our players to show their best ability and confidence on the court,” said Korean coach Jung Sun-min. “Individually I think we played very hard and very well today.”

Point guard Hind Ben Abdelkader poured in 18 points for Belgium as they ended Bosnia and Herzegovina’s tournament dreams. Aiming to better their fourth place in 2018, they swept home 85-55 to join the United States in the last eight from Group A.

Kyara Linskens and Julie Vanloo both chipped in with 13 points for their third straight win of the 10-day competition after an opening day loss to Reeve’s United States. Defeat ended any hope the Bosnians had in a hugely disappointing debut tournament, where they leaked 364 points over four consecutive defeats with Belgium successfully blunting the threat posed by dangerwoman Jonquel Jones.

“We played a very good defence on Jones and as a team we were very focused,” said Belgium coach Valery Demory. The top four teams from each of the two groups progress to the quarter-finals with China also qualifying from Pool A if they beat Puerto Rico later. Serbia kept their hopes alive in a tough Group B, beating Mali 81-68. Canada are already through and face hosts Australia later, who can also qualify if they win.

France will join them if they overcome Japan, whose ball movement and relentless defence that defined their run to the Tokyo Olympics final last year have so far been largely absent.