Canadian women through to U19 World Cup semis

UDINE, Italy — Canada has clinched a spot in the semifinals of the FIBA women’s U19 World Cup.

Laeticia Amihere of Mississauga, Ont., scored 21 points to lift the Canadians to a 68-65 victory over China in Friday’s quarter-finals. Hailey Brown of Hamilton grabbed 13 rebounds.

The Canadians will face Russia on Saturday.

China cut the Canadians’ 10-point lead to just two over the game’s final 30 seconds before Canada sealed the victory.

“We talked a lot about weathering the storm and playing through adversity,” said Canadian team coach Carly Clarke. “I thought we did a great job of keeping our composure when China got off to a hot start.

“Once we settled down, we were able to execute our gameplan on both ends of the floor. We are thrilled to move on and have the opportunity to play for a medal.”

This will mark just the second tournament semifinal berth for Canada’s under-19 women’s team. In 2009, the squad finished fourth overall.

The win over China comes on the heels of the Canadian men’s team winning gold at its U19 World Cup in Cairo, the country’s first world basketball title in history.

Canada trailed China 21-10 after the first quarter but rallied to cut the deficit to 28-26 at the half.

“I’m glad we pulled through and got the win,” Amihere said. “We came in fighting and knew it was going to be a battle to the end.

“It was more of a redemption game for us because a lot of us played in the quarter-finals last year and fell short. Today’s game was a great show of character and I’m excited to keep on playing and go for that gold medal.”

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