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Stewart tows U.S. to final

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Seattle forward Breanna Stewart drilled a game-high 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds as clinical reigning champions the United States crushed Canada, 83-43, to sweep into the women’s basketball World Cup final on Friday.

They opened with 15 unanswered points and never relented, extending their amazing World Cup win streak to 29 games to set up a gold-medal showdown in Sydney against Australia or China, who play later.

Ever-dangerous Las Vegas Aces’ star A’ja Wilson added 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Americans, who zeroed in on a fourth straight title and 11th overall.

Laeticia Amihere scored eight points to lead a deflated Canada.

The Americans were always overwhelming favorites in their 10th consecutive World Cup semifinal, having never failed to reach the last four since the knockout stage was introduced in 1986.

In contrast, world No. 4 Canada had got this far just once before, in 1986, when they also crashed to the US.

The Americans’ depth, defense and scoring talent was on full display once again.

They have killed it inside all tournament, sinking 55 points a game in the paint ahead of the semifinal, while punishing errors.

It was a similar scenario against Canada, who have taken big strides under coach Victor Lapena but struggled against the speed of their opponents.

The US’ 15 straight points at the start gave it an immediate stranglehold and Canada never recovered, needing five minutes to get off the mark.

While the US shot 79 percent, Canada could only manage 11 percent as they fell 27-7 behind after the first quarter.

The margin only grew in the second frame to 45-21, with Stewart at the forefront.

They put on another 22 points in the third quarter to build a huge 38-point buffer going into the final stretch before cruising home for an emphatic win.

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