US uses big third quarter to pull away from Canada
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) Geno Auriemma knows his U.S. women's basketball team is a work in progress. They have only been together for a week and still are missing a few key players, including Diana Taurasi.
Only leading by four at halftime, the Americans scored the first 13 points of the third quarter to grab control in a 76-51 victory over Canada on Monday night in an exhibition game.
''I thought there were moments where we looked like we could be a really good team down the road,'' Auriemma said. ''We'll find out more when we get to France and when we play three games in three days. The competition will be pretty good.''
The U.S. will now head to France to play in a pre-worlds tournament against Australia, China and France. The 13 players who competed in Monday night's game will be joined by a few players who missed the training camp to play in the WNBA Finals.
Auriemma said that one player who won't be joining them in France is Sylvia Fowles, who needs time to rest her injuries. That opens another spot on the team for a player like Nneka Ogwumike, who scored 10 points in the balanced attack against Canada.
Leading 35-31 at the break, the U.S. came out strong in the third quarter behind Tina Charles. She was scoreless in the first half, but had seven points during the game-changing spurt. Maya Moore added a nifty reverse layup and the Americans were off and running.
By the time Katherine Plouffe, the former Marquette player, hit a layup 6:30 into the quarter to end the run, the U.S. led 48-31.
Odyssey Sims hit a 3-pointer just before the end of the period to give the Americans a 57-41 advantage. Canada could only get within 14 in the fourth quarter.
''We're still a work in progress but we're going in the right direction,'' said Moore, who had six steals. ''We have all the parts and are learning to play together. It definitely helps having so many veterans.''
Plouffe had 14 points for Canada.
''Canada is slowly building up as a basketball nation,'' said Kim Gaucher, who will be playing in her third world championship. ''I think we showed tonight that for 20 minutes we competed with them really well. Once they ramped up their pressure we had a rough stretch for 20 minutes. We showed that we can be a force at worlds.''
The U.S. will make a quick stop in the Czech Republic before heading to Istanbul to begin the world championship on Sept. 27.
The Canadians are headed to Spain to play an exhibition game against the host country and Cuba.
Canada is in Group B at the world championship with France, Turkey and Mozambique. Canada featured UConn freshman Kia Nurse. The young guard finished with six points. Before the game, she posed with current and former Huskies for a photo much to the delight of the roughly 7,500 fans in attendance.
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