Puerto Rico reaches first World Cup quarterfinals with win over South Korea

Steve Christo - Corbis / Corbis Sport / Getty

SYDNEY (AP) — Puerto Rico is headed to the quarterfinals of the women's World Cup for the first time.

Mya Hollingshed scored 29 points and Arella Guirantes added 18 to lead Puerto Rico to the 92-73 win over South Korea on Tuesday on the final day of pool play.

Puerto Rico (2-3) scored the game's first 18 points, including 10 by Hollingshed, and never looked back, securing the final spot in the quarterfinals that begin Thursday.

“My shot was falling,” Hollingshed said. “I looked up and they hadn't scored yet.”

After the final buzzer sounded, the Puerto Ricans were dancing and celebrating their accomplishment.

In other games Tuesday, the U.S. routed Bosnia and Herzegovina 121-59; China beat Belgium 81-55; Canada topped Mali 88-65; France played Serbia and Australia faced Japan later Tuesday.

FIBA will hold a draw for the matchups in the elimination round after the Australia-Japan game.

Just as winning for the first time in the country's history earlier in the tournament did, the Puerto Rican players and coaches hope that advancing to the quarters will provide some joy to the island that's been ravaged by Hurricane Fiona.

“Making history now for us, with what our country is going through right now with Hurricane Fiona. It’s monumental and I hope that it brings some joy to the country and that’s all we want to do, through basketball bring some joy,” said Tayra Melendez.

The team was winless in its three games at the 2018 World Cup, losing by an average of nearly 28 points. The team wasn’t even supposed to be in the tournament, but was given a spot when Russia wasn’t allowed to compete following its invasion of Ukraine.

“It means a lot with everything going on on the island,” Hollingshed said. “With everything they are dealing with we’re playing for more than ourselves. I know everyone’s excited and encouraging us.”

South Korea had a scary moment when Yebin Yoon went down to the ground injured after missing a layup. After a few minutes of being looked at by team trainers, she was taken to the locker room. She didn't return to the game.

UNITED STATES 121, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA 59

Kelsey Plum scored 20 points, Chelsea Gray added 16 and the United States women routed Bosnia and Herzegovina to break the team record for consecutive wins at the World Cup.

The victory was the 27th in a row in World Cup play for the Americans, who haven’t lost since the 2006 semifinals against Russia. The U.S. won 26 in a row from 1994-2006 leading up to that game. The Soviet Union holds the World Cup record with 56 straight wins from 1959-86.

The Americans (5-0) won their pool games by an average of 46.2 points and never trailed in any of them. Nikolina Elez scored 19 points to lead the 0-5 losing side, which was playing in its first World Cup.

CHINA 81, BELGIUM 55

Li Meng scored 16 points and China clinched the No. 2 seed in Group A with its win over Belgium.

China (4-1) led 50-45 late in the third quarter before a 19-5 run spanning the periods broke the game open. Wang Siyu had five points during the run. Belgium never threatened after that.

Kyara Linskens scored 14 points and Julie Vanloo added 13 for Belgium (3-2) that was playing without star Emma Meesseman, who injured her left calf in the previous game and is out for the rest of the tournament.

CANADA 88, MALI 65

Bridget Carleton scored 27 points, hitting seven 3-pointers, to help Canada top Mali.

Canada (4-1) now must wait to see where it finishes in the group pending the outcome of the France-Serbia and Australia-Japan games.

The Canadians led 33-16 after the first quarter and didn't look back.

Mali (0-5) finished the tournament losing by an average of 30 points a game. FIBA opened an investigation into an altercation between two Mali players in the mixed zone following their team’s loss to Serbia on Monday. The scuffle between Salimatou Kourouma and Kamite Elisabeth Dabou happened while they were walking through the post-game media area and was caught on film by Serbian media.

Kourouma had nine points in the game and Dabou had six.

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More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Puerto Rico reaches first World Cup quarterfinals with win over South Korea
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