A’ja Wilson and the US put on quite a show on Monday in Sydney, breaking the World Cup scoring mark in a record rout of South Korea.
Brionna Jones scored 24 points and Wilson added 20 to help the US beat South Korea 145-69. Shakira Austin’s layup with nine seconds left helped the Americans break Brazil’s record of 143 points set in 1990.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a team that can score the basketball like this,” Wilson said. “This is crazy, we put up 145 points. I think when you look at us and just knowing how talented we are, we just came together and we play together very, very well.”
The US have the most talented and deepest roster of any team in the World Cup with 12 WNBA stars on the roster. Still, the Americans had never come close to that sort of offensive output during their storied World Cup history. Their previous team record was 119 points against Angola in 2014 and China in 2006. The scoring margin was also the biggest in US history as well, surpassing the 75-point win over Angola in 2014.
The win was the 26th in a row in World Cup play for the Americans, who haven’t lost since the 2006 semi-finals when they fell to Russia. The US also won 26 in a row from 1994 to 2006. The Soviet Union hold the World Cup record with 56 straight wins from 1959-1986.
What started with Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Sylvia Fowles has now been passed on to Breanna Stewart and Wilson. A legacy of excellence that doesn’t look like it’s ending anytime soon.
The US, who have been playing stellar defence, were challenged by South Korea early. The teams traded baskets for the first eight minutes and it was tied at 21 before the Americans took control, scoring the final 11 points of the period. Kahleah Copper came off the bench for the first time in the tournament and scored six points during that spurt. The Americans kept the streak going to start the second quarter, scoring nine of the first 11 points to put the game away.
By the time the game reached the half the US were up 68-40, including scoring 44 points in the paint against the undersized Koreans. “We were trying to get the ball inside,” Jones said. “We had an advantage there.” The only suspense in the second half was how many records the Americans could break. They took down their own scoring mark on Sabrina Ionescu’s three-pointer with 6:15 left in the game and kept putting up points with Austin’s layup capping off the contest.
Other records broken on Monday included the 62 field goals made, 36 assists and 94 points in the paint.
“Our size was a problem for them and I thought we shared the ball,” US coach Cheryl Reeve said.
The Americans were well rested for the game after having their first day off of the tournament on Sunday.
Despite the rout, South Korea (1-3) can still advance to the quarter-finals with a win over Puerto Rico on Tuesday.
Leeseul Kang, who had 37 points in a win over Bosnia and Herzegovina, scored 10 points. Hyejin Park had 17 to lead the team.