SYDNEY, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- Even with a record of winning zero out of 13 games against the United States, China never shies away from challenging the mightiest. Their early encounter on Saturday during the 2022 Women's Basketball World Cup can prove it.
On a run of 31 wins in the World Cup preliminary round, reigning champion the United States took an 11-0 in the opening two minutes, pouring down three 3-pointers in a row. But that didn't psych Chinese players out. They tied the game at 13-13 before the first quarter finished 18-13.
In the second quarter, the United States again made a double-digit surge to go up at 44-25 by halftime. The young Chinese guns shot 22 points to cap the third quarter trailing 56-47 and forced the U.S. head coach to request a time-out.
Though unable to whittle down the gap in the final period before eventually losing 77-63, the Chinese team, with an average age of 25.5 years old, showed their teeth to the world.
"We enjoyed the whole process and cherished this opportunity to play head-to-head with the United States, which enabled us to learn a lot from the world's best team," said Li Meng, who scored a game-high 21 points including three shots from behind the arc.
Li's performance impressed U.S. captain Breanna Stewart, as she remembered playing against the No.9 for a long time on court. "She's tough and she just never stopped flying," said Stewart, who had a game-high nine rebounds.
As the U.S. team was just boosted with the return of their WNBA championship trio Kelsey Plum, Chelsea Gray and A'ja Wilson. Wilson managed 20 points and eight rebounds, while Gray earned 12 points and six rebounds.
Towering U.S. players mounted nine turnovers during the game, ten fewer than China.
"We didn't play quite well in the opening minutes and the last three minutes of the second quarter, but they did really well in the rest of the match and I'm very proud of them," said China head coach Zheng Wei.
Elsewhere on Saturday, South Korea's Kang Lee-seul rocked the stadium with a phenomenal 37 points to lift her team to a 99-66 triumph over Bosnia and Herzegovina, their first victory so far in the tournament.
Also adding a stellar eight rebounds, five assists and three steals, Kang earned a staggering performance efficiency valuation of 44, which surpassed the record of 41 registered by Australian center Liz Cambag, according to the International Basketball Federation.
Jonquel Jones dropped a team-high 21 points and nine rebounds, yet without enough team support to defend against their relentless rival.
Puerto Rico was close to its second win with Arella Guirantes scoring a game-high 27 points, but they ended up with a disappointing 68-65 loss to Belgium, a team powered by twin turbos -- Kyara Linskens with 24 points and 13 rebounds, as well as Emma Meesseman with 12 rebounds and 11 assists.
At the end of the third game day, the United States topped the Group A standings with six points, followed by China (5), Belgium (5), Puerto Rico (4), South Korea (4) and BiH (3).