Breanna Stewart and the United States used a dominant defensive effort to beat Canada and reach the gold-medal game of the World Cup for the fourth consecutive tournament.
Stewart scored 17 points and the Americans raced out to an early lead to put away Canada 83-43 on Friday. The 43 points was the fewest scored in a semifinal game in World Cup history.
“Canada has been playing really well all tournament and the goal was just to come out there and really limit them,” said U.S. forward Alyssa Thomas. “We were really locked in from the jump with our game plan.”
The Chinese team lost to the U.S. by 14 points in the pool round — the closest game of the tournament for the Americans.
“Our goal was to win a gold medal and we’re in position to do that,” U.S. coach Cheryl Reeve said.
WATCH | Americans dominate Canada in semis:
Americans blow out Canada to reach gold medal game at basketball worlds
Breanna Stewart led the way for the United States with 17 points in 20 minutes to beat Canada 83-43 in the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup semifinals.
The U.S. (7-0), which is on a record pace for points and margin of victory in the tournament, took control of the game early by scoring the first 15 points. The Americans contested every shot on the defensive end as the Canadians missed their first nine attempts from the field. On the offensive end, Stewart, A’ja Wilson and Alyssa Thomas basically got any shot they wanted.
“I think after that punch, it really took the air out of them,” Thomas said. “They didn’t know what to do with their offence anymore after that.”
Laeticia Amihere, who plays at South Carolina for former U.S. coach Dawn Staley, finally got Canada on the board nearly 5 minutes into the game by making a driving layup. Amihere led Canada with eight points.
The Americans were up 45-21 at the half and the lead kept expanding in the final 20 minutes. The win was the biggest margin for the U.S. in the medal round, topping the 36-point victory over Spain in the 2010 World Cup.
Canada aims for 1st medal since 1986
Canada (5-2) advanced to the medal round for the first time since 1986 and has a chance to win its first medal since taking the bronze that year.
“We didn’t get it done today, but what we’re going to do is take this with what we learned today and how we can turn it up tomorrow,” Canada captain Natalie Achonwa said. “It’s still a game for a medal and it’s just as important for us.”
The U.S. has won seven of the eight meetings with Canada in the World Cup, although the last one came in 2010. The lone victory for Canada came in 1975.
The victory was the 29th in a row in World Cup play for the Americans, who haven’t lost since the 2006 semifinals against Russia. The Soviet Union holds the World Cup record with 56 straight wins from 1959-86. This is only the second time in the Americans’ storied history they’ve reached four consecutive gold medal contests. They also did it from 1979-90, winning three times.
This U.S. team, which has so many new faces on it, also continued to dominate the paint even without 6-foot-8 Brittney Griner, outscoring opponents by an average of 55-24.
“We’re starting to build that identity,” Wilson said of the defensive effort. “We’re quick and scrappy and I think that’s our identity.”
The U.S. is averaging 101 points a game. The Americans’ previous high coming into the tournament was 99.1 set in 1994.