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USA make Quarter-Finals with Alyssa Thomas leading the Havoc – FIBA

SYDNEY (Australia) – Team USA are through to the Quarter-Finals of the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup once again after beating a determined China squad.
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As fans, we’ve gotten so used to seeing Team USA dominate and win game after game in the Women’s World Cup that we sometimes take it for granted just how good they are. USA’s run here in Sydney – at least in the first three games – has not been any different.
In these first games which has resulted in USA becoming the first team to qualify for the Quarter-Finals, they lead all teams in scoring at 90.0 points per game and winning by an average margin of 31 points per game. It’s been a dominating display so far and with the team getting more comfortable, they will be even harder to stop.
“I love to disrupt, I love to cause havoc, so it’s fun playing on a team that loves to play defense and it really just fuels our offense.”

– Alyssa Thomas
The win against China in their third game of the competition extended their Women’s World Cup winning streak to a whopping amount of 25 games. This streak has extended across five Women’s World Cups including this one and 2006 where they last lost to Russia in the Semi-Final. Throughout these 25 games, USA have averaged 92.6 points per game and allowed only 62.8 points per game which means they are beating opponents by nearly 30 points on average.
There’s been only one game (against Australia in 2010) where they won by a single digit margin, which emphasizes not only how tough they are to beat but how tough it is to just keep up with the defending three-time champions.
One key factor that has many fans confident that Team USA can keep it going is because of how well they’ve been playing defense.
So far, they’ve given up only 59.0 points per game playing against teams like China and Belgium who are currently among the top scoring teams of the competition. Coach Cheryl Reeve’s team features many defenders that are can guard multiple positions and that allows her team to keep on switching and keep applying pressure on the offense.
“I think the athleticism that is on this roster is allowing us to do different things,” said coach Cheryl Reeve. “Opponents will get to a point where we’ll really find out whether we’re capable of switching and getting exploited in another areas but this team has been super mindful of help defense when we do get beat, it’s just been their identity.”
Here in Sydney, Team USA are allowing their opponents to shoot only 35.1 percent from the floor which is just a bit under their average throughout their 25-game win streak of 36.1 percent. The defensive standard of the 2014 squad that allowed only 32.3 percent field goal shooting is a high bar, but they’ve done an extremely good job of locking down their opponents.
“I love to disrupt, I love to cause havoc, so it’s fun playing on a team that loves to play defense and it really just fuels our offense,” said Alyssa Thomas after the win over Puerto Rico.

That is what coach Reeve would want to hear from the player who she names as the spearhead of the defense in this Women’s World Cup, Alyssa Thomas, who has been phenomenal and leading all players in efficiency.
The 30-year-old is averaging 12.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game while shooting 59.3 percent from the floor, but the statistic that stands out the most so far is her 4.3 steals per game. She had 5 steals against China, one shy of the current tournament-high … that she had set herself in the previous game against Puerto Rico.
Her 6 steals was one of the highest ever in Women’s World Cup history and the most by a USA player in the Women’s World Cup since Tamika Catchings since 2002. Thomas certainly has a knack of placing herself among legendary players and their performances in the Women’s World Cup as she had also recorded the most assists in a single game by a USA player since Dawn Staley had a 12-assist game and a 9-assist game in 1998.
“It’s huge, you’re talking about Dawn Staley, Tamika Catchings, both great players for the game and to be even in the same category with them, I’m truly honored,” said Thomas of the acchievement.
“It’s impressive,” coach Reeve immediately concurred.
More than just the counting numbers, Thomas’ pressuring presence and defensive versatility has been clear from the start which is why coach Reeve is so confident of her team’s defense.
“The player to my right has been really vital to establishing that identity,” said Reeve during the post-game press conference where Thomas was seated beside her. “We did it in February [at the Women’s World Cup Qualifying Tournament], we had perimeter players that will be up in their space and can get through screens quickly with their length.”
“We talked every day about being hard to play against, getting deflections, not giving people space to do simple things and they’ve really bought into that.”
Can Thomas keep the defense of Team USA throughout the remainder of the competition, especially through the Final Phase, and keep the undefeated streak going?
You’ll just have to stay tuned to all of the action at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022 to find out.

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