TENERIFE, Spain, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- China lost to Australia 83-42 in the quarterfinals of the 2018 FIBA Women's World Cup here on Friday.
It was China's fifth consecutive defeat to Australia at major tournaments since 2002. Young center Li Yueru scored a team-high 12 points. Shao Ting and Sun Mengran helped with seven and six points respectively.
Following their revenge on Japan in quarterfinal qualifications, China trailed throughout the match against Australia. The 27-point deficit prior to the fourth quarter was quite hard for the Asian Games gold medalist to make up.
China failed to restrain Liz Cambage as the WNBA All-Star center finished 10 points in the first quarter. At 14-7 down midway through this quarter, China were scoreless in more than four minutes. Australia set up a 24-7 cushion after the first quarter through a 10-0 spurt.
"We didn't play well at the start, and felt a bit nervous facing a strong team like Australia," admitted China captain Shao Ting.
"I can feel the huge gap between Cambage and myself. I need to learn from her and approach her step by step," commented Li Yueru.
Australia maintained their lead over 20 points since the start of the second quarter. Point guard Li Yuan's layup with 2:52 remaining cut China's deficit to 20 points, before Australia showed no sign of sliding away following a timeout. China, shooting 24 percent, were outscored 42-18 into the halftime.
China suffered a scoring drought in almost three minutes after the interval, going 30 points behind, before Li Meng snapped China's skid with a layup.
China continued to come back into contention afterwards. Li Yueru's three-point play dragged the team to a 20-point deficit again with 2:41 to go, but Australia extended momentum to go up 61-34 into the final period.
"We didn't play a good start. We didn't put on a good restraint on opponents' three-pointers and Cambage, thus boosting their confidence," said China's head coach Xu Limin.
"We had made preparations, but players didn't execute the plan quite well and suffered many errors, which also influenced their performance at the offensive end," Xu added.
Cambage had 20 points and nine rebounds in less than 20 minutes. Bec Allen added 16.
Australia will play the winners between Canada and hosts Spain in Saturday's semifinals, while China play classification games for five-eight places.
"We still set our target at the best result that we can achieve. The fifth-place finish will be something that we will fight for," Li pointed out.
Earlier on Friday, two-time defending champions the United States secured their place in semifinals after bouncing back from a nightmare first quarter to see off Nigeria 71-40.
The Americans were left 9-17 behind after the opening period due to their 13 percent in shooting field goals and eight turnovers.
But they managed to lead for the first time through a three-pointer from Breanna Stewart, who scored 19 points, with 2:04 remaining in the second quarter. The basketball powerhouse rode on a strong second half for their comfortable win. Enditem