WASHINGTON, D.C. — The USA Basketball women’s national team was dominant from start to finish against Puerto Rico in their second and final game of the 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup Qualifiers, winning 93-55 on Saturday afternoon at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington, D.C.
After a sluggish start against Belgium Friday, the Americans started off playing a smothering defense in the first half and had a commanding 33-8 lead after the first quarter. Jewell Loyd led Team USA with all 10 of her points.
But when teams lead big initially, they often take their foot off the gas. Team USA was no different, and they were actually outscored 19-16 in the second quarter as the Puerto Ricans began to clamp up their defense. Team USA continued to be rather sluggish in the third quarter as the Puerto Ricans were able to get the deficit down to just 21.
After some adjustments in the middle of the third, Team USA got back to playing committed defense, quickly expanding their lead to as many as 42 points as the home squad cruised to victory.
Six players scored in double figures for the Americans, with Washington Mystics guard Ariel Atkins scoring 14 in 17 minutes of playing action. In addition to being a consistent defensive presence, she was also the beneficiary of this pass from Alyssa Thomas on the fast break.
@athomas_25 ➡️ Atkins #FIBAWWC | @usabasketball pic.twitter.com/jXTpZNndXe— FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup (@FIBAWWC) February 12, 2022
Connecticut Sun center Brionna Jones had a second strong performance for Team USA as well, adding 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Only two Americans (Loyd and New York Liberty center Natasha Howard) played more than 20 minutes, possibly in part because of the lopsided result.
For Puerto Rico, Isalys Quinones led the team with 12 points and Jazmon Gwathmey had 11 more.
Team USA is now finished with its slate of games in the World Cup Qualifiers. Although they already qualified for the World Cup in last year’s Olympics, these games still provided valuable experience for some of the returning Olympians who didn’t play much in Tokyo like Atkins, and some post players like Jones have put themselves in a better position for a call up this summer.
The Puerto Ricans will travel to the Dominican Republic to play Russia in their final game on Monday. They will have to win that game to keep their World Cup hopes alive. Tip off for that game is at 2 p.m. ET and it can be streamed on FIBA’s YouTube channel.