BASKETBALL: U.S. women stay undefeated with two World Cup wins

These were not masterpieces of basketball, but the no. 1-ranked United States women’s national team won their 17th and 18th straight games in FIBA World Cup competition over Senegal (87-67) and China (100-88).

That puts the U.S. atop its group and into the quarterfinals as the group winner; the standings after two of the three group-phase gamedays:

Group A: Canada (2-0), France (2-0), Korea (0-2), Greece (0-2)
Group B: Australia (2-0), Nigeria (1-1), Turkey (1-1), Argentina (0-2)
Group C: Spain (2-0), Japan (1-1), Belgium (1-1), Puerto Rico (0-2)
Group D: United States (2-0), China (1-1), Senegal (1-1), Latvia (0-2)

The last group games will on Tuesday; the U.S. will finish with Latvia.

The top three teams in each group will qualify for the playoffs. The group winners will advance directly into the quarterfinals, with the second- and third-place teams playing among themselves to get into the quarters. The play-in games will be held on the 26th, quarters on the 28th, semis in the 29th and the finals in 30 September.

The games are being played in the Canary Islands of Spain, in the 5,100-seat Tenerife Sports Pavilion Santiago Martin in San Cristobal de La Laguna and the 3,600-seat Palacio Municipal de Deportes in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

Against Senegal, the U.S. led by just 18-17 after the first quarter, but busted the game open in the second quarter with a 27-14 outburst and had a 45-31 lead. The American squad shot well at 52.6% overall, but only 5-17 from three-point range. Forward Elena Delle Donne led all scorers with 19, followed by 16 from forward Nneka Ogwumike, 15 from forward A’ja Wilson and 14 from forward Breanna Stewart. Stewart, Delle Donne and center Tina Charles each had six rebounds. Senegal was led by center Oumoul Khairy Sarr, who had 18 points.

Against China, the U.S. never ran away with the game, but steadily led throughout, ahead 25-20 after one quarter, 48-39 at half and 77-68 after three quarters on the way to a 100-88 victory. China shot well, hitting 47.4% of its shots and had four scorers in double figures, led by centers Xu Han and Mengran Sun, who had 20 and 16 points, respectively.

The U.S. shot brilliantly, hitting 57.6% from the field and had four in double figures, as Stewart had 23, Wilson logged 20, Charles had 16 and Tausasi scored 13. Wilson, Stewart and Charles all had six rebounds.

Since the competition began back in 1953, the U.S. women have won nine times, including the first two editions in ‘53 and ‘57, then again in 1979-86-90-98-2002-10-14. Its last loss was in a semifinal to Russia in the 2006 tournament.

Only four nations have ever won this tournament: the U.S. has nine golds, followed by the Soviet Union (6) and Brazil (1: 1994) and Australia (1: 2006). The U.S. has won six of the last eight.

The schedule of matches and scores are here.