How Many Quarters Are In A Basketball Game? (Middle School To Pros)

Casual sports fans may ask themselves, “How many quarters are in a basketball game?” not knowing the rules of the sport. The quarters or specific time allotments for a basketball game can vary based on the level of play or area of the world. The subsequent article will provide a detailed summary surrounding the time regulations of different types of organized basketball games.

How many quarters are there in a basketball game?

Basketball, like most other sports, has specific allotments of time that the competition is divided into for play. Two different categories of time categorizations are used around the world, either quarters or halves.

Most basketball games are divided into 4 quarters of equal time, with the amount of time in each quarter varying based on the level of play. If the game ends in a tie, an additional overtime quarter is played to determine the winner.

Multiple overtime periods can be played if the game keeps ending in a tie, with the game not ending until a team ends the overtime period with more points than their opponent. It is also important to note that quarter-length games are also technically divided into halves. The 1st two quarters are known as the first half and the 2nd two quarters known as the 2nd half.

Sometimes, basketball games are comprised of 2 separate halves of equal time instead of quarters. An additional overtime period is played to determine a winner if the game ends in a tie.

The quarters played in a middle school basketball game

Middle school basketball games follow the quarter-length format. Each game consists of four quarters. Of all levels of basketball, the length of quarters and overtime periods for middle school vary the most.

The majority of middle school basketball leagues utilize 6-minute or 7-minute quarters. The overtime periods are either 4 or 5 minutes. However, in some cases, middle school may opt to implement 8-minute quarters, quarters that are less than 6 minutes in length, or overtime periods that are 3 minutes in length.

How many quarters are in a high school basketball game?

High school basketball almost exclusively uses the quarter-length format, with each quarter being 8 minutes in length. A few high school leagues around the United States do use 2, 16-minute halves instead of 4, 8-minute quarters, but this is a rarity. Most overtime periods are 4 minutes long, although 5-minute overtime periods are also sometimes used.

The longest high school basketball game on record occurred in North Carolina on February 29, 1964, between Angier High School and Boone Trail High School. 13 separate overtime periods were needed to finish the game, which ended with Boone Trial High School defeating Angier High School 54-52. Incredibly, both teams used only their starting 5 players the entire game, with no substitutions.

How many quarters/halves are in a college basketball game?

Women’s NCAA College Basketball

Women’s NCAA college basketball divides its games into quarters. Each contest consists of 4, 10-minute quarters. All overtime periods last 5 minutes.

Women’s college basketball used to play 2, 20-minute halves. It changed to the new quarter format for the start of the 2015-2016 season. Many analysts and rules experts theorized that the format change would enhance the flow of the game, although this contention is open to debate.

The record for the longest NCAA women’s college basketball game is 5 overtimes, with 4 different games lasting this long. 2 of these games occurred on the Division 1 level, with Memphis beating Temple 100-97 in 2016 and Drexell beating Northeastern 98-80 in 2007.

The other 2 5-overtime games occurred on the Division 2 level when St. Joseph’s beat Northern Kentucky 131-130 in 1988 and Florida Tech defeated Florida Southern 82-81 in 2006.

Men’s NCAA College Basketball

Men’s NCAA college basketball still uses the half-based time system. Each game consists of 2, 20-minute halves. Overtime periods, like women’s college basketball, are 5 minutes long.

There has been no serious discussion or efforts to mimic the women’s change to quarter-based play, and it is most likely that men’s college basketball will continue to use the half-based format indefinitely.

The longest men’s college basketball game occurred in 1981 when Cincinnati defeated Bradley 75-73 in 7 overtimes. Ironically, Bradley center Kerry Cook had a chance to tie the game with an 18-foot jump shot that would have sent the game into an 8th overtime. The game as a whole took 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete.

Quarters played in a professional basketball game

The vast majority of all professional basketball leagues in the United States and around the world, both male and female, play 4 quarters in a game. However, the specific quarter lengths vary between the United States and international leagues.

As with other levels of basketball around the world, overtime periods are also used for games that end regulation in a tie, with as many overtime periods played as necessary to determine a winner.

NBA

The NBA separates its games into 4, 12-minute quarters, with a 5-minute overtime period for all games that end regulation in a tie. It has used 12-minute quarters since its beginning in 1946. The rival American Basketball Association (ABA) also used 12-minute quarters during its decade-long run from 1967-1976.

The longest NBA basketball game took place on January 6, 1951, between the Indianapolis Olympians and the Rochester Royals. The game went an additional 6 overtime periods, for a total of 78 minutes of total gameplay, with the Olympians edging out the Royals 75-73. Only two other games in NBA history have gone at least 5 overtime periods.

WNBA

The WNBA, like women’s college basketball, separates its games into 4, 10-minute quarters, with a 5-minute overtime period for all games that end regulation in a tie. The WNBA originally separated its games into 2, 20-minute halves before switching to the quarter-length format. The WNBA will most likely keep the 4-quarter format for the foreseeable future, mirroring its NBA counterpart.

Although the records aren’t as readily available, the longest recorded WNBA game in history probably occurred on July 4, 2001, between the Washington Mystics and Seattle Storm. The game lasted an additional 4 overtime periods, with the Mystics defeating the Storm 72-69.

G-League

The NBA’s minor league affiliate, the G-League, also uses 4, 12-minute quarters for all games. Previously known as the NBA Development League, the G-League differs from the NBA in its overtime length, opting for just 2-minute overtime periods. However, like all other levels of basketball, there is no limit on the number of overtime periods that can be played to determine a winner.

As with the WNBA, records for the G-League aren’t as available as records from the NBA or other professional leagues. The longest game available in records available to the public occurred this past season on March 19, 2022, between the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and the Memphis Hustle. The game lasted 4 overtimes as the Hustle defeated the Vipers 139-131.

FIBA Basketball

FIBA is an organization that governs basketball tournaments and competitions on an international level, including the Olympics. FIBA competitions utilize 4, 10-minute quarters and use overtime periods that are 5 minutes in length.

The longest game in FIBA history occurred in 2006, in a preliminary round of the 2006 FIBA World Championship. Germany defeated Angola 108-103 in a game that lasted 3 overtimes.

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