Breanna Stewart's brave play saves Team USA from a humiliating loss in the Olympic qualifying round.
Breanna Stewart’s brave play saves Team USA from a humiliating loss in the Olympic qualifying round.

It was a close game between Team USA and Belgium on Thursday, but Breanna Stewart made the game-winning shot before the buzzer. The USA won 81–79.

Stewart, who is 29 years old, jumped the highest to tip in the rebound of a Kelsey Plum pull-up jumper from the sideline. They didn’t box out the 6-foot-4 forward, so he tapped the ball up after it bounced off the rim and into the basket off the backboard.

Referee Viola Gyorgyi looked at the play on a monitor next to the court and confirmed that Stewart’s fingers stopped touching the ball with tenths of a second left in the game. However, Gyorgyi missed Plum stepping out of bounds on the bench after being trapped by Antonia Delaere and Julie Vanloo of Belgium after a Stewart inbound pass.

Because the referees couldn’t look at that play again, the No. 6 ranked FIBA team in the world, which is far behind Team USA in the FIBA points system, didn’t force OT. With 19 points, Vanloo leads the hosts’ scoring. He was Plum’s blocker on the play and had a lot to say about the missed call afterward.

She told the Antwerpen newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen, “I saw Plum’s foot go outside.” “I’m pretty sure she was outside.” Unfortunately, there is no VAR here. In soccer, VAR is a video aid referee who reviews decisions from a distance.

The newspaper’s photos make it clear that Plum stepped on the bench while dribbling the ball past Vanloo. Stewart moved into a great spot in the middle of the floor for the putback without knowing it.

Stewart had the important touch, but by the high standards she sets, it wasn’t very good. The current WNBA MVP only scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds, making just three out of nine field goal attempts. That was enough, though, to make her the third-best scorer on the team.

Along with Naphessa Collier (23 points and 7 rebounds), Alyssa Thomas scored 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the frontcourt. Together, they had 37 points and 14 rebounds. Without Stewart, they scored more points and got more rebounds than the rest of the team.

Team USA escaped a historic low thanks to Collier, who also had three steals, which was the most on the team. The U.S. has only lost one Olympic qualifying game, to South Korea in May 1980 in the semifinals of their group, 89–88.

Even so, Team USA’s hopes of playing in Paris would not have been ruined by a loss in this year’s qualifying tournament; they already had a spot secured when they won the World Cup two years ago. It would have been bad for the programme to lose to Belgium, though.

In the semi-finals of the 2006 FIBA World Championship, the U.S. lost to Russia 75–68, which was the last time they lost at an Olympics or World Cup. In the final, an Australian team led by tournament MVP Penny Taylor and top scorer Lauren Jackson blew out the U.S. team.

Team USA came in third place at the tournament and beat host country Brazil 99–59. Since then, it has won every Olympics and World Cup.

Read More:

  1. The drug scandal involving an Olympic skater will last until 2024, which is almost two years from now.
  2. Combat Sport in Olympics
  3. Lawmakers worry about being watched as they vote on the Paris Olympic law
  4. A new coach, Emma Hayes, will give the US players a fresh start after a tough year.

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