A’ja Wilson admitted she was tired. The WNBA MVP had just gotten to Australia less than 24 hours ago, fresh off a championship and the U.S. was playing its toughest opponent of the World Cup.
After a slow start, Wilson was clutch in the fourth quarter, finishing with 20 points to help the U.S. beat China 77-63 on Saturday.
“I don’t know how I’m doing it,” Wilson said. “You just put things aside … It’s like riding a bike. I am exhausted, I’m not going to lie about it. At this point I don’t even think about it. I’m surrounded by greatness. I really lean on them. I don’t even know which way is up. I see it’s daylight and feel I need to go to sleep.”
The U.S. now has won 25 consecutive World Cup games since losing in the 2006 semifinals to Russia. The Americans advanced to the quarterfinals and are one win away from matching their record 26-game run from 1998-2006.
The teams came into the game unbeaten in the tournament. The U.S. (3-0) led 25-20 with 6:23 left in the first half before outscoring China 19-5 the rest of the second quarter, including the final 13 points. Alyssa Thomas and Breanna Stewart combined for seven of the 13 points during the game-changing burst.
Wilson closed the half with a putback that made it 44-25. She and Las Vegas teammates Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum were playing in their first game in Australia. The trio were in Las Vegas celebrating the franchise’s first WNBA championship before arriving in Sydney.
The U.S. led 56-40 with 2:18 left in the third be-fore China scored the final seven points of the period to get within nine. The Aces trio scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter to make it a 16-point game again.—AP