Rally time: Nurse helps Canada come back, beat Serbia 71-67
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Rallying from 18 down in the third quarter is big in any game. Doing it in the Olympics is pretty special. Guard Kia Nurse put on an impressive show to spark Canada's comeback in women's basketball on Monday, showing she is nearly completely healthy in just her fifth game back from surgery.
Very healthy indeed.
She scored 25 points off Canada's bench as the Canadians rallied to stun Serbia 71-67. Nurse, who had sports hernia surgery after helping the UConn Huskies win a fourth straight national title in April, came through with the Canadians needing someone to start making shots.
''I said after the game, `Welcome back,''' Canada coach Lisa Thomaidis said. ''Tremendous effort. She's such a competitor, there's no one tougher out there. When the game's on the line when your team needs someone she's going to step it up and you certainly saw that today.''
The Canadians (2-0) needed Nurse, a guard who will be a junior in coach Geno Auriemma's UConn program this fall. She had 10 points in the first half, and added nine more in the third to start the scoring for the Canadians with 5:52 left in the third and her team trailing 52-34.
Nurse said she feels really good with the pain in her groin all gone. That allowed her to attack the basket and knock down a handful of jumpers.
''This was a game we really wanted to win,'' Nurse said. ''When we play in desperation mode, which we were playing in today, we're really, really good.''
Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe's three-point play put Canada ahead to stay, 68-67 with 48.4 seconds left, to finish off the amazing rally. With fans chanting ''Ca-na-da'' through much of the fourth quarter as Canada simply smothered and outscored Serbia 26-10 in the fourth quarter.
Thomaidis called it a ''massive'' win coming against last year's European champion.
''Really proud of this team,'' the Canadian coach said. ''We knew the game plan. We didn't execute it in the first half. We got back to it in the second half a little bit more. Had to switch some things up completely since we weren't doing them. Give the team credit for executing down the stretch. We hit some big hoops when we needed to.''
Nurse drove to the basket then passed out to Miah-Marie Langlois for the clinching 3 with 8.7 seconds left for her fifth assist.
Serbia (0-2) will regret this missed opportunity in its Olympic debut, especially after some ugly turnovers in the fourth quarter in the face of Canada's defensive pressure. Jelena Milovanovic scored 19 points, and Sonja Petrovic had 15.