Breanna Stewart prepares to shoot the ball at the FIBA Women's World Cup on Sept. 28, 2018 in Tenerife, Spain.
Rising star Breanna Stewart scored 19 points, veteran Tina Charles grabbed 15 rebounds and the two-time defending champion U.S. women’s basketball team cruised past Nigeria 71-40 on Friday to advance to the semifinals at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup in Tenerife, Spain.
The U.S. will play the winner of an ongoing game between Belgium and France in a semifinal game on Saturday. The medal rounds are scheduled for Sunday.
With the win, Team USA extended a stretch of reaching the tournament semifinals 10 times in a row, dating back to 1979. The tournament was previously called the FIBA World Championship for Women.
Stewart, a 24-year-old forward who is coming off leading her Seattle Storm to the WNBA championship earlier this month, has been a force for Team USA. She was 5-for-6 from the field and 2-for-2 from the perimeter against Nigeria, while also making all three of her free throw attempts. Through four games, her 17.0 points per game leads the team and ranks fourth overall. She also added five assists and three rebounds on Friday.
One of six Olympians on the team, Stewart is already the 11th American to win championships at the NCAA, WNBA, Olympic and World Cup levels.
Nigeria, which became the first African team to reach the World Cup quarterfinals, pulled out to an early 17-9 lead in the first quarter before the heavily favored Americans pulled away.
Team USA was particularly dominant in the paint, outscoring Nigeria 38-14 and out rebounding the African team 62-32. Charles, 29 and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, added eight points to her team-leading 15 rebounds.
A’ja Wilson was the only other American to score in double digits, posting 11 points. In total, 11 of the 12 players on Team USA scored in the game.
Point guard Sue Bird, who is playing in her U.S. record fifth World Cup, tied her Seattle teammate Stewart for the team lead with five assists.
Through four games, the U.S. has an average margin of victory of more than 20 points.
Team USA is seeking its 10th World Cup title and fifth win in the last six tournaments. The U.S. is also the six-time defending Olympic gold medalist.