U.S., still short-handed, routs Puerto Rico at FIBA Women’s World Cup

Shakira Austin
Getty
0 Comments

SYDNEY — The United States is quickly identifying itself as a stellar defensive squad by using its athleticism to make it difficult for opponents to score.

Shakira Austin scored 19 points, Kahleah Copper added 16 and the U.S. played suffocating defense to rout Puerto Rico 106-42 on Friday in the FIBA Women’s World Cup.

“We talk every day about being hard to play against, getting deflections, and the team has really bought into that,” U.S. coach Cheryl Reeve said.

The Americans (2-0) forced Puerto Rico into 21 turnovers and contested nearly every shot, making every point tough to come by.

“It’s fun playing on a team that loves to play defense. It really fuels our offense,” said Alyssa Thomas, who had six of the Americans’ 13 steals.

The U.S. jumped out to a 27-11 lead after one quarter as Thomas had 10 points and five steals in the opening 10 minutes. The Americans forced nine turnovers in the period. The U.S. kept the pressure on in the second, holding Puerto Rico without a point for nearly the first five minutes of the period.

Mya Hollingshed finally ended the drought, making a contested 3-pointer that made it 40-17. The Americans led 54-21 at the half. There was little drama in the second half as the U.S. kept extending its lead.

The Americans contained guard Arella Guirantes, who had 26 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in Puerto Rico’s opening win over Bosnia and Herzegovina. She was held to seven points on 2-of-12 shooting. The U.S. threw four or five different defenders at her, starting with Copper.

“We like to be aggressive on both ends,” Breanna Stewart said. “We can and will guard multiple positions and make it hard for the other team. Our activity and awareness of one and another on the defensive end will go a long way in the tournament.”

MORE: FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

The U.S. now has won 24 consecutive World Cup games since losing in the 2006 semifinals to Russia. The Americans are two wins short of matching their record 26-game run from 1998-2006.

Puerto Rico (1-1) was coming off its first-ever World Cup win. Hollingshed, who played in college at Colorado, finished with 10 points.

“The U.S. is the most important team in the tournament, but for us we are just trying to win one more game,” Puerto Rico captain Pamela Rosado said.

REINFORCEMENTS

Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum landed in Sydney after celebrating the Las Vegas Aces’ first WNBA championship with a parade on Tuesday. They sat on the U.S. bench and cheered on their teammates. A’ja Wilson, the third member of the championship team, was expected to land in Sydney later Friday.

“We’ll get some time in the morning with them before we play against a really good China team tomorrow,” Reeve said. “The depth will be helpful.”

BENCH PLAY

Led by Austin, the U.S. reserves outscored Puerto Rico’s 47-21. Brionna Jones added 15 points and nine boards.

RECORD WATCH

As good as the U.S. defense was, it wasn’t the lowest scoring total by an American opponent. Argentina had 22 points in 1953. … The Americans also fell short of the margin-of-victory record held by the 2014 team that beat Angola 119-44. … Thomas also fell one short of the U.S. record for steals in a game set by Cheryl Miller in 1986. Tamika Catchings had six against Russia in 2002. Olga Gomez of Cuba holds the World Cup record of 10 against France in 1994.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Mo Farah likely to retire this year

Mo Farah
Getty
0 Comments

British track legend Mo Farah will likely retire by the end of this year.

“I’m not going to go to the Olympics, and I think 2023 will probably be my last year,” the 39-year-old Farah said, according to multiple British media reports.

Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m golds at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, was announced Tuesday as part of the field for the London Marathon on April 23.

Last May, Farah reportedly said he believed his career on the track was over, but not the roads.

London might not be his last marathon. Farah also said that if, toward the end of this year, he was capable of being picked to run for Britain again, he would “never turn that down,” according to Tuesday’s reports.

It’s not clear if Farah was referencing the world track and field championships, which include a marathon and are in Budapest in August. Or selection for the 2024 British Olympic marathon team.

The fastest British male marathoner last year ran 2:10:46, ranking outside the top 300 in the world. Farah broke 2:10 in all five marathons that he’s finished, but he hasn’t run one since October 2019 (aside from pacing the 2020 London Marathon).

Farah withdrew four days before the last London Marathon on Oct. 2, citing a right hip injury.

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah’s best London Marathon finish in four starts was third place in 2018.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

Kendall Gretsch
Getty
0 Comments

Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!