USA take down Spain in Turkey 2014 Final to retain world title
ISTANBUL (FIBA World Championship for Women) - World champions USA retained their title after rolling to a 77-64 triumph against Spain in the Final of the 2014 FIBA World Championship for Women at Fenerbahce Arena in Istanbul on Sunday.
Geno Auriemma and his team eased their way to a fourth title success in five outings at the event, with the outcome never looking to be in serious doubt once the USA got off to a flying start.
They were able to showcase their outstanding depth and talent from the outset, with Maya Moore dominating the early exchanges. The MVP of the WNBA regular season showed her quality with eight quick-fire points, as the USA wasted little time in carving out a double-digit lead at 15-5.
That had Spain head coach Lucas Mondelo calling a quick timeout, but he couldn't stop the bleeding and with the USA getting the looks they wanted from most areas of the floor, he found his team down by 11 points heading into the second quarter.
Matters deteriorated further for first-time finalists Spain as Moore, who has played for Mondelo at club level for the last two season in China, kept her foot on the gas to score 16 points by the time the first-half had elapsed.
The EuroBasket Women 2013 winners headed to the locker rooms trailing 48-29 and their problems compounded by marquee forward Sancho Lyttle having picked up three fouls, while Diana Taurasi had showed some sublime passing skills for the champions with seven assists.
Any prospect of Spain reeling back the USA also hinged on getting their Semi-Final hero Alba Torrens into the game. After racking up 28 points against Turkey to get her team to a historic Final appearance, she was scoreless at the break after being well-shackled.
As Spain began to tread water when play resumed, Torrens finally came alive with 10 points during the third period, but the USA continued to engage cruise control and ended the quarter with Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus and Tina Charles all into double-digits along with Moore.
That level of depth in terms of scoring, combined with some terrific defense, allowed the USA to head into the final quarter up 67-48 and on course for a record-breaking Final victory.
However, Spain produced a late rally and played with great pride to avoid an unwanted role in another glorious USA women's basketball chapter.
They held their opponents to just 10 points over the closing 10 minutes to reduce the final margin and finish on a high note - having already improved on their third-place finish four years ago in Czech Republic.
Afterwards, USA head coach Geno Auriemma reflected on his team's triumphant run.
"It is very difficult to win this Championship. There are some great teams and they are getting better all the time," he said.
"Although just because we are expected to win, it doesn't make it any easier.
"My guys make a great sacrifice to play for their country and I couldn't be more proud."
USA captain Sue Bird, who became the player with the most medals in the history of the FIBA World Championship for Women (three golds and one bronze), talked about the accomplishment.
"It is kind of surreal, but when I get older and reflect, it might hit me even more," she said.
"I have been lucky to play for some amazing coaches and alongside some great team-mates.
"I have been to four World Championships and certainly didn't do anything all by myself."
As for Spain head coach Lucas Mondelo, he admitted that nervousness played a part in his team getting off to a slow start.
"We started a little nervous with it being our first Final," he said.
"We made mistakes on defense and the USA has a team with great quality that punishes every error."