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Canada comes up short in fourth quarter, falls to U.S. in World Cup tune-up

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — For three quarters Canada looked to be in charge and on the verge of handing the U.S. women's national team its first home loss in nearly 19 years.

Kia Nurse had a game-high 22 points and the Canadians built up a 16-point lead over the United States, but in the end they couldn't hold on as the Americans rallied for a 74-68 win on Saturday in an exhibition tune-up for the 2018 World Cup.

Canada came out strong and led 22-9 after the first quarter. The Americans chipped away and trimmed it to a 56-48 deficit heading into the fourth, then took over in the final frame to cruise to victory after the early scare. 

The No. 1-ranked U.S. used a 10-0 run midway through the fourth to tie the game 62-62 and Canada didn't respond, going 1 for 11 from the floor during the stretch.

"Held them to 28 points at halftime and we stopped making shots in the second half," said Canada coach Lisa Thomaidis.

"The U.S. pounded us on the boards in the second half. We got some shots and we were right there. We weren't able to knock them down at the end."

Nurse finished 6 for 21 from the floor and hit 8-of-11 free throws to lead all scorers. Natalie Achonwa chipped in with 10 points for Canada while A'ja Wilson had a team-high 15 points and 10 rebounds for the U.S. 

The Americans hadn't lost a game on home soil since 1999 when they dropped an exhibition contest at Tennessee. The U.S.' last loss overall came in 2014 in France in a pre-world cup tournament.

"I didn't fret the score," said U.S. coach Dawn Staley. "I knew, I was very sure we'd make a run and sure we'd get back in the game."

Thomaidis named her 12-player roster Wednesday ahead of the two-game exhibition series in Bridgeport, Conn., that included a 76-69 victory over Japan on Friday.

The women's World Cup is Sept. 22-30 in Tenerife, Spain.

The Canadian women are ranked fifth in the world, and qualified for their ninth World Cup appearance by winning the FIBA AmeriCup tournament last summer.

— With files from The Associated Press

The Canadian Press

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