SYDNEY — A’ja Wilson scored 20 points to help the US beat China 77-63 on Saturday in the women’s World Cup.
The US now has won 25 consecutive World Cup games since losing in the 2006 semifinals to Russia. The Americans advanced to the quarterfinals and are one win away from matching their record 26-game run from 1998 to 2006.
These two teams came into the game unbeaten in the tournament. The US (3-0) led 25-20 with 6:23 left in the first half before outscoring China 19-5 the rest of the second quarter, including the final 13 points. Alyssa Thomas and Breanna Stewart combined for seven of the 13 points during the game-changing burst.
Wilson, who arrived roughly 20 hours before tip, closed the half with a putback that made it 44-25. She and Las Vegas teammates Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum were playing in their first game since getting to Australia in the last day. The trio were in Las Vegas celebrating the franchise’s first WNBA championship before arriving in Sydney.
The US led 56-40 with 2:18 left in the third before China scored the final seven points of the period to get within nine. The Aces trio scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter to make it a 16-point game again.
China, though, wouldn’t go away. Trailing 67-51, Li Meng scored four points in a 9-0 burst to get her team to 69-60 with 2 minutes left.
Wilson ended the drought with two free throws and a reverse layup to seal the win.
Li finished with 21 points to lead China (2-1).
China had cruised to wins in its first two games, routing both South Korea and Bosnia and Herzegovina by an average of 55 points. The Chinese team hadn’t faced a defense like the US which had been solid in its first two games.
There was a big pro-Chinese crowd for the game, including Hall of Famer Yao Ming, who is the chairman of the Chinese Basketball Association. He was shown on the videoboard and received a huge ovation from the crowd.
In other games Saturday, Belgium played Puerto Rico and South Korea faced Bosnia and Herzegovina.
China: Faces Puerto Rico on Monday.
US: Plays South Korea on Monday.