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SYDNEY – The United States is quickly identifying itself as a stellar defensive team, using its athleticism to make it difficult for opponents to score.

Shakira Austin scored 19 points, Kahleah Copper added 16 and the US played a suffocating defense to defeat Puerto Rico 106-42 on Friday’s World Cup.

“We talk every day about it being difficult to play against, to take deflections, and the team really bought into that,” said USA coach Cheryl Reeve.

The Americans (2-0) forced Puerto Rico to 21 turnovers and contested nearly every shot, making every point difficult to reach.

“It’s fun to play for a team that loves to play defense; it really fuels our offense,” said Alyssa Thomas, who had six of the Americans’ 13 steals.

The US jumped to a 27-11 lead after a quarter, with Thomas having 10 points and five steals in the first 10 minutes. The Americans forced nine turnovers in the period. The USA kept up the pressure in the second half, keeping Puerto Rico scoreless for nearly the first five minutes of the period.

Mya Hollingshed finally ended the drought, making a hotly contested 3-pointer that made it 40-17. The Americans led 54-21 at halftime. There was little drama in the second half as the US continued to extend its lead.

The Americans held guard Arella Guirantes, who had 26 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in Puerto Rico’s victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina. She had seven points on 2 of 12 shots. The US played four or five different defenders at it, starting with Copper.

“We like to be aggressive on both sides,” said Breanna Stewart. “We can and will defend various positions and make life difficult for the other team. Our activity and awareness of each other in defense will go a long way in the tournament.”

The USA have now won 24 consecutive World Cup games since losing in the 2006 semifinals to Russia. The Americans are two wins away from equaling their 26-game record from 1998 to 2006.

Puerto Rico (1-1) was coming off its first World Cup win. Hollingshed, who played in college in Colorado, finished with 10 points.

“The USA are the most important team in the tournament, but for us we are just trying to win one more game,” said Puerto Rican captain Pamela Rosado.

Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum arrived in Sydney after celebrating the Las Vegas Aces’ first WNBA title with a parade on Tuesday. They sat on the US bench and applauded their teammates. A’ja Wilson, the third member of the winning team, is due to land in Sydney on Friday.

“We’ll have some time in the morning with them before we play a really good team from China tomorrow,” Reeve said. “Depth will be useful.”

Led by Austin, US reserves surpassed Puerto Rico’s 47-21. Brionna Jones had 15 points and nine rebounds.

As good as the US defense was, it wasn’t the lowest total score by an American opponent. Argentina scored 22 points in 1953. … The Americans also fell short of the 2014 team’s 119-44 victory margin record. … Thomas was just below the US record for steals in a game set by Cheryl Miller in 1986. Tamika Catchings had six against Russia in 2002. Olga Gomez of Cuba holds the World Cup record of 10 against France in 1994.

Nirra Fields scored 17 points and Shay Colley added 11 to help Canada (2-0) beat France 59-45 and move into the driver’s seat as the only undefeated team remaining in their group

In other games on Friday, China defeated Bosnia and Herzegovina 98-51; Serbia defeated Japan 69-64 and Belgium beat South Korea 84-61. Australia crossed against Mali 118-58.

Puerto Rico: faces Belgium on Saturday.

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