FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022: A story in two halves as USA book their place in the semi-finals

It’s something we couldn’t say much about in this FIBA ​​Women’s Basketball World Cup, but midway through the first quarter, USA found themselves in a close game against Serbia.

With a semi-final spot on the line, it had been a home-and-away game so far, with the United States holding a slim five-point lead.

Next, Kaleah Copper was fouled.

This seemed to galvanize the USA team which had looked uncharacteristically shaky before that point, and for the final 3:39 of the first half Serbia failed to score a single basket as the USA made a run of 12-0.

The half-time break would offer no respite for the Serbs, and having finally found some momentum, the USA showed exactly why they are the favorites to win gold, beating their opponents 38-22 in the second half. .

Overall, the United States edged Serbia 50-22 after Copper fell, his injury was a lightning rod for the team to mind their business.

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

In what was a fairly physical tournament, this match was no different, and American forward Alyssa Thomas says she enjoyed the challenge this style of play presented.

“Of course it’s something I like of course, something I’m used to playing abroad as well,” Thomas told reporters after the game.

“I think at this point you expect everyone to be pretty physical and just have to keep our composure and keep playing our game.

“I just bring energy, I just try to play hard, we didn’t start the way we wanted and I just tried to acquire some extra possessions, play hard and make saves in defense and really get us going.”

As Kelsey Plum led the United States with 17 points off the bench, Thomas earned a dominant double-double of 13 points and 14 rebounds, adding seven assists and three steals for good measure.

USA coach Cheryl Reeve praised Thomas after the match, saying she dominated virtually every aspect of the game.

“She scored, rebounded and she got the extra possessions on offense,” Reeve said.

“Defensively, she’s tough to play against and she almost hit a triple-double and I think if we did a few more of those open shots, she’s got a triple-double quite easily.

“She’s such a part of our defensive identity. I can’t say enough about her value. I know that and playing against them, you know, in Connecticut – he’s a player.

“I’m really excited that she wants to be a part of American basketball and she’s given us everything she’s got and that gives us a level of toughness.

“She has this passion and relentlessness that helps everyone feed off of her.”

Thomas also noted the loss of Copper to the Americans and highlighted the team’s mentality dealing with his injury.

“You don’t want to see someone go down like that, of course thoughts and prayers go out to her, she’s a phenomenal player, but if someone goes down you have to step up even more and play harder to fill in. cancel it.”

The USA mentality showed itself late in the game when the team took time out to work out some issues despite leading by 20 points.

“It was probably the second chance opportunities, I know they had three possessions in one possession, we can’t allow that kind of thing to happen, especially when we’re playing switch defense, we have to really focus on not allowing them to get rebounds,” Thomas added.

After earning their 33-point (88-55) victory, USA’s eyes now turn to the second quarter-final, as they will face Canada’s winner against Puerto Rico in the semi-finals.

But after waiting longer than expected to step up a gear and deal with possible injuries, the United States likely won’t be happy with how this quarter-final turned out.

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