The United States is victorious in the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup once again after defeating Australia, 93-77, on Sunday. Brittney Griner scored 15 points in 24 minutes of game action, while Diana Taurasi added 13 points and Breanna Stewart added 10 more.
For Australia, Liz Cambage was limited to 7 points and Alana Smith led Australia’s scorers with 10. Here’s how the USA got it done.
Team USA stopped Liz Cambage’s offense
Unlike Belgium in the semifinals, where several players were capable of handling a major scoring load, Australia was very dependent on Liz Cambage for scoring. For the bulk of this World Cup, going through Cambage worked — until yesterday.
The Americans held Cambage to just 2-of-10 shooting. And even though Cambage still grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked 5 shots, she was otherwise ineffective on offense. By taking her out of the game, Australia had to depend on other players to take the load. But New York Liberty forward Bec Allen was unable to do much either; she shot just 1-of-6 from the field for 2 points.
Jenna O’Hea, who does have WNBA playing experience, was a bright spot for Australia, scoring 6 points on 3-of-4 shooting. But she never really had a chance to shoot the ball enough to make this game more competitive.
Brittney Griner and Breanna Stewart continued to show out
When Cambage was shut down, the Americans countered with strong performances. Griner led the American scorers with 15 points despite dealing with Cambage for much of the game.
And Breanna Stewart didn’t put up big stats in this particular game, but her 10 points and 8 rebounds helped secure the World Cup MVP award, which was announced after the Americans came up with the win.
The USA’s depth was just too much for everyone
Team USA was far from a perfect team in this World Cup. If anything, they showed more vulnerabilities in this tournament than in the past, even as other teams have caught up to the United States in talent and chemistry. The Australians tried to shuffle rotations, not unlike the Americans, and no Australian played 30 minutes in the championship game. However, Australia just didn’t have the depth to keep up, just like every other team that the Americans faced in the group stage and quarterfinals.
There is room to improve but the future for Team USA is bright
The Americans were not perfect in this World Cup, but for good reason: Six of Team USA’s players were new to the USA Basketball Women’s National Team and new to international competition. But a few of the first timers, like Las Vegas Aces’ duo A’ja Wilson and Kelsey Plum, figure to be among the faces of the future for USA Basketball. Meanwhile, Sue Bird and Taurasi may still be elite players but they are in their late 30’s and will retire sooner rather than later.
But the younger players on the USA Basketball Women’s National Team have gained some valuable experience and won a gold medal. Since the United States will have to start playing in World Cup and continental tournament qualifiers like every other national team, that also helps Team USA develop more younger players and expand the pool of available players for future tournaments.