Hours after the U.S. women's win over Italy and with their unbeaten record in 3x3 basketball in the balance, Kelsey Plum confidently stepped behind the two-point arc and let fly.
The shot hit nothing but net, giving Plum 10 points for the game but more importantly putting the U.S. at the 21-point threshold needed to end the game and beat a physical Chinese team 21-19.
The ragged game was not the most intelligent effort for the U.S. women in this tournament. Plum made several ill-advised drives on isolation plays and steered herself into trouble, with 6-foot-4 Zhang Zhiting controlling the lane. The defense was a step slow, allowing China to convert 11 of 17 1-point shots. Fortunately for the U.S., China was less successful from behind the arc, hitting four of 12.
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And when it counted, Allisha Gray made the difference, entering the game with two minutes to play and blocking two shots in the next 30 seconds.
With the win, the U.S. clinched a bye to the semifinals. With the ROC's 17-14 loss to France in the game after the U.S. beat China, the Americans clinched first place in the group. The ROC, China and Japan are tied at 4-2 for second place and the other bye to the semis.
The U.S. can treat Tuesday as a virtual rest day. The game against Japan (4-2) won't affect the standings, and with the bye to the semis, the team can rest while the third- through sixth-placed teams in the pool play quarterfinal matchups.
- Beau Dure
Dolson towers over Italy
Stefanie Dolson was too much for Italy as Team USA stayed unbeaten with a 17-13 win on Monday.
The Italians hung tough with the favored Americans before falling to 2-4 on the tournament.
Dolson, the Chicago Sky veteran, had six points and seven rebounds in the win, also blocking a shot. Dallas Wings guard Allisha Gray had six points and six boards.
- Nicholas Mendola
France edges Mongolia
Earlier, winless Mongolia put a scare into France (2-3) before succumbing 21-18.
Mamignan Toure scored her only three points of the match after Mongolia had made it 18-18 with under two minutes on the clock.
Tserenlkham Munkhsaikhan and Khulan Onolbaatar each had seven points for Mongolia (0-6).
- Nicholas Mendola