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Stewart, Team USA wins U-19 World Championship

CNS basketball star earns another gold medal

— For the third consecutive summer, Cicero-North Syracuse basketball star Breanna Stewart is bringing home a gold medal from international competition.

Following up titles won in Mexico and France in previous years, Stewart and her United States teammates won the FIBA Under-19 World Championship Sunday night in Chile, easily defeating Spain 69-44 in the gold-medal game. It marked the second straight year the Americans won this event.

A surge late in the first quarter gave the Americans a 25-15 lead, and the margin kept growing in the second period as it was 37-22 at the break. Not once did Spain offer any kind of sustained answer, and by the fourth quarter the only question was how big the final margin would get.

Stewart had just one field goal in 19 minutes of action, but contributed six rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Three players - Stefanie Dolson, Elizabeth Williams and Kaleena Lewis - led Team USA with 15 points apiece.

Having breezed to wins in group play Japan, Russia and Argentina in group play from July 21-23, Team USA did not get tested until the next phase of group play, which started last Monday with a hard-fought 80-77 win over China.

Only leading 34-32 at halftime, Team USA used a 24-14 push through the third quarter to gain a cushion that it needed as China stormed back in the final period. It took late baskets from Bria Hartley and Kaleena Lewis to help the Americans hang on.

As for Stewart, in 17 minutes of action she only managed nine points, her lowest total of the tournament so far, but added eight rebounds.

A day later, against Italy, the Americans avoided a similar drama, rolling to a 94-60 victory. It was 31-13 after one quarter, and Team USA kept pulling further away as Stewart, in just 13-plus minutes of work, managed 15 points and four rebounds.

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