Li Meng(3rd, L) of China celebrates with her teammates after winning the Group D match between China and Senegal at the 2018 FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup at Santiago Martin in San Cristobal de La Laguna in Tenerife, Spain, Sept. 25, 2018. China won 75-66. (Xinhua/Zheng Huansong)
TENERIFE, Spain, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- China finished second in Group D after withstanding late rally from Senegal to win 75-66 in the final group match at the 2018 FIBA Women's World Cup here on Tuesday.
Li Meng scored a team-high 15 points for China. Captain Shao Ting had 10. Chinese youngsters continued to show progress as Li Yueru grabbed 11 rebounds and Li Yuan dished out seven assists.
"Our opponents focus on ball possession, so we made full preparation for that before the match," said Li Yuan, who scored her first point on the World Cup stage.
China opened their scoring on Shao Ting's layup. Shao also ended both sides' scoring drought for three and a half minutes. In a quarter characterized by fierce body contact, China conceded seven turnovers and shot just 29 percent, but managed to build a 10-8 lead as the quarter expired.
After establishing a comfortable cushion on consecutive shots beyond the arc from Sun Mengran, Wang Xuemeng and Li Meng, China built a double-figure advantage for the first time thanks to Li Yueru's layup with 4:25 remaining in the second quarter. China led 30-19 into the halftime thanks to four three-pointers.
China built a 17-point lead early in the third period, but the African runners-up displayed resilience thereafter and drastically improved their three-pointer shooting efficiency, cutting China's lead to five points through Mame Diodio Diouf's buzzer beater.
Senegal continued to press on and were four points behind after Mame Marie Sy-Diop hit a three-pointer. Then China buckled up their defense and pulled away again on Shao's two layups in a row.
"We didn't restrain opponents quite well in the second half, giving them too many chances of coming back into contention," admitted Shao.
"They made much progress compared with that team at the Rio Olympics two years ago in ball pass, fast breaks and moves inside the paint field," she added.
Senegal came as close as two points when Bintou Dieme made a layup with 1:25 from time, but China steadied firm through Sun Mengran's layup and a pair of free throws from Wang Siyu. Li Meng sealed China's victory with her three-pointer on target with seven seconds remaining.
Senegal's Astou Traore finished a game-high 21 points, added by Yacine Diop's 13 and Sy-Diop's 12.
"No matter who we face next, we will stick to our level of play, fully unleash everybody's potential and not leave pity to ourselves," said China's head coach Xu Limin.
The United States, who have secured a top place with consecutive victories over Senegal and China, will play Latvia later on Tuesday.