The United States overcame a slow start and used a 21-0 run Saturday to defeat Australia 77-54 in the semifinals of the U19 World Basketball Championship in Lithuania.
Connecticut star Breanna Stewart had game highs in both points (23) and rebounds (eight) for the Americans.
“Australia is just so good and they have incredible half-court execution,” USA Coach Katie Meier said. “We were really struggling to score and we couldn’t. Therefore, we had to run back and play half-court defense. The game was not going in our favor at all. As soon as we had an opportunity to throw in a little press and trapping action, which requires scoring, once we were able to start scoring just a little, we were able to get into that.”
Linnae Harper, a Chicago native who will be a freshman at Kentucky in the fall, added six points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals.
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“It was a close game and we just came out in the second quarter and brought intensity,” Harper said. “We knew that if we kept playing the way we were playing it would be a very close game. The bench and the starting lineup, we all came out and played hard together and stretched the lead.”
The United States (8-0) will play France (7-1) in Sunday’s finals at 1:15 p.m. EDT. France defeated Spain in the other semifinal matchup.
The Americans defeated France 69-63 on Wednesday in the second round of the tournament.
“When we played them, it was really tough,” Harper said. “I think the game is going to really be a test for us, but I think we’re ready mentally and physically to be able to win the game.”