KLAIPEDA (FIBA U19 World Championship for Women) - Reigning champions USA extended their podium topping run with a fifth consecutive gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women, after overpowering and locking down France
61-28 in Lithuania.
The USA threw a defensive blanket over France in the second half and restricted them to a meagre eight points as they became dominant and cruised to victory.
Having met earlier in the competition in a hard fought and close contest which the USA won, both teams already knew each other well and it showed in the early stages of the Final.
Neither team was able to make a decisive break at 6-6, until USA came alive with seven unanswered points, rounded off by a three-pointer in the corner by Breanna Stewart.
The favourites still held the upper hand at 19-10, but Les Bleues were at least containing USA enough to cling on to their hopes of an upset with Olivia Epoupa and Linnae Harper engaged in a fascinating duel at point guard.
But the ever-present danger for France was Stewart, her perimeter capabilities complimented by her ability to go inside and make plays at the hoop.
Slowly but surely, the USA started to turn the screw and when they doubled the score of their opponents at 24-12, it looked bleak for France.
However, coming out of a much needed time-out, Epoupa knocked down a rare three-ball to give her team an injection of life as they proceeded to cut the gap to 27-20 heading to the locker rooms.
Unfortunately for head coach Jerome Fournier, the revival was all too brief and his team were completely overrun when they returned for the second half.
As the chance of a surprise ebbed away, the hopes of France evaporated altogether when Epoupa had to be carried off the court nursing an injury shortly before the end of the third quarter.
When Stewart then rubbed salt into the wounds by hitting a long-distance score from the wing to make it 43-26, the game was up for France.
With just two assists and cold from downtown, the USA became more rampant with every passing second.
Stewart had 16 points and nine rebounds for USA, who finished the tournament undefeated.