Charles’ Defense Helps Propel USA Past Nigeria, 71-40, and into Semifinals

TENERIFE, Spain – September 28, 2018 – Tina Charles hauled a game-high 15 boards and the USA Women’s World Cup Team overpowered Nigeria, 71-40, in a Friday semifinals match of the 2018 FIBA World Cup.

“That is one of the best things about this team.” Charles began.  “We can exhaust ourselves on the offensive and defensive end, knowing that we have another great player coming in. So, we knew, for somebody, that the shots were going to start falling. That really happened with Stewie (Breanna Stewart), and A’ja (Wilson) came in and gave us great minutes. So, it was really good.”

At halftime, with the USA ahead by just four points after Nigeria’s aggressiveness had become a constant source of irritation. Though the USA would prevail, Nigeria, the first African nation to reach a quarterfinal in the World Cup’s 65-year history, held the USA to 25 points fewer than its group phase average of 96.3. The USA scored nine points in the first quarter, half of its previous low against Senegal.

The 20-11 Nigeria lead with 9:19 left in the second quarter was the biggest deficit the USA has faced in this tournament. The USA was behind for 16:38 in the half after trailing for a total of 8:24 in its previous three games.

Charles grabbed a World Cup personal best of 15 rebounds to help the USA outrebound Nigeria, 62-32.

The USA opened the third quarter with a 14-4 run and began to take control of the game. The second-half adjustments helped the USA outscore Nigeria 44-17, the biggest second-half margin of the tournament for the USA. The team shot 51.4 percent in the final two quarters after shooting 30.3 percent in the first half.

Historically, the USA is no stranger to overcoming adversity in this tournament. It faced a 37-28 halftime deficit against Russia in the 1998 World Cup that ended with a gold medal. It also held a 72-71 lead with 3:28 remaining against Russia during the 2002 World Cup. The USA finished 9-0 in both of those World Cup appearances.