Brenna Stewart and the United States looked effective defensively to beat Canada 83-43 on Friday to advance in the Women’s Basketball World Cup gold medal matchup for the fourth consecutive tournament.
Stewart scored 17 points as the Americans took an early lead to defeat a Canadian team, whose 43 points represent the lowest score in a semi-final game in World Cup history.
“Canada have been playing very well throughout the tournament and the goal was to go out there and really limit them,” said USA’s Alyssa Thomas. “We didn’t really lock in with our game plan at the beginning.”
The Americans will face China on Saturday, who beat hosts Australia 61-59. The Chinese team lost to the United States by 14 points in the group stage, the closest matchup of the tournament for the Americans.
“Our goal was to win the gold medal and we are in a position to do that,” said American coach Cheryl Reeve.
The United States (7–0), who maintained a record pace of points and a winning margin in the tournament, took control of the match from the start, scoring the first 15 points. The Americans fought every game to defend themselves and forced the Canadians to miss their first nine shots off the field. On the offensive end, Stewart, Aja Wilson and Alyssa Thomas hit everything they tried.
“I think after that hit, they really ran out of air,” Thomas said. “After that, they didn’t know what to do with their crime anymore.”
Leticia Amihere, who played in South Carolina for former US coach Don Staley, finally put Canada on the scoreboard about five minutes after kick-off.
At the end of the first quarter, the United States was already leading 27-7. Canada had made four turnovers, the same number they faced in the entire game against Puerto Rico in the quarterfinals, the lowest total in a game in 30 years.
The Americans held a 45-21 lead at halftime and continued to widen the lead in the final 20 minutes. The victory was the largest margin for the United States in the knockout stages, surpassing their 36-point victory over Spain in the 2010 World Cup.
Canada (5-2) reached the semi-finals for the first time since 1986 and have a chance of winning their first medal since winning bronze that year.
“We didn’t do it today, but we’ll take what we learned today and how we can improve it tomorrow,” said Canadian captain Natalie Achonawa. “We still have one game ahead (against Australia) for a medal and it’s just as important to us.”
It was the 29th consecutive World Cup victory for the Americans, who have not lost since the 2006 semi-final against Russia. The Soviet Union holds the World Cup record with 56 consecutive victories between 1959 and 1986. It is the second time in history that the United States has reached four consecutive Women’s World Cup finals. He also won three from 1979 to 1990.
The Americans average 101 points per game and their previous high was 99.1, set in 1994.