FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022: A tale of two halves as USA book their spot in the semi-finals

FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup 2022: A tale of two halves as USA book their spot in the semi-finals

It’s something we haven’t been able to say much this FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup, but mid-way through the first quarter, the USA were locked in a tight match with Serbia. 

With a semi-finals spot on the line, it had been a back-and-forth game to this point, America holding a slim five-point lead. 

Then Kaleah Copper got fouled. 

This seemed to galvanise the American team that had looked uncharacteristically shaky before that point, and for the final 3:39 of the first half, Serbia would not score a single basket as the USA went on a 12-0 run. 

The half-time break would offer no respite to the Serbians, and having finally found some momentum, the USA showed exactly why they’re the favourites to win gold, outsourcing their opponents 38 – 22 in the second half. 

In total, USA outscored Serbia 50 – 22 after Copper went down, her injury a lightning rod for the team to take care of business. 

Copper was taken off the court after her fall, and was later helped off the court, a worrying sign for an American team that has relied on her energy and defensive presence off the bench so far in this tournament. 

In what has been a fairly physical tournament, this game was no different, and USA player Alyssa Thomas said that she has enjoyed the challenge that this style of play has presented. 

“For sure, it’s something that I like of course, something I’m used to playing overseas as well,” Thomas said. 

“I think at this point you expect everybody to be pretty physical and just gotta keep our composure and continue to play our game.

“I’m just bringing energy, just trying to play hard, we didn’t start the way we wanted to and I just tried to gain extra possessions, play hard and get stops on defense and just really jump start us.”

While Kelsey Plum lead USA with 17 points off the bench, Thomas claimed a dominant 13-point, 14-rebound double-double, adding in seven assists and three steals for good measure.

Thomas also noted the loss of Copper for the Americans and highlighted the team’s mentality in the face of her injury. 

“You don’t want to see anybody go down like that, of course, thoughts and prayers go out to her, she’s a phenomenal player, but if one goes down you’ve got to step up even more and play harder to fill that void.”

The USA’s mentality was shown late in the game when the team took a timeout to address some issues despite leading the game by 20 points. 

“It was probably the second chance opportunities, I know they got three in one possession, we can’t allow those kind of things to happen, especially when we’re playing switch defense, we gotta really focus on not allowing them to get rebounds,” Thomas said. 

After claiming their 33-point win, America’s eyes now turn to the second quarter-final, as they’re set to face off against the winner of Canada v Puerto Rico in the semi-finals. 

But after waiting longer than expected to get into gear, and facing possible injuries, USA are unlikely to be thrilled with how this quarter-final played out.