COLORADO SPRINGS, CO August 8, 2014 – A 25-6 run in the final 6:44 of the first half turned a close battle between undefeated teams into a 107-76 win for USA Basketball over Canada on Friday night in the FIBA Americas Championship at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. The group’s top two teams were in a battle early with the Canadians offering the Americans their most consistent challenge of the tournament so far. Team USA head coach Dawn Staley’s team trailed by as many as six points in the first half before mounting a comeback that South Carolina incoming freshman A’ja Wilson helped solidify with a 14-point third quarter.
The U.S. started the game well, scoring nine unanswered points less than two minutes into the contest. Trailing 11-3 with 7:24 to go in the quarter, the Canadians tied the game at 11 just over two minutes later as Team USA struggled. Paris Kea’s basket at the 5:39 mark of the period along with Briana Turner’s free throw seemed to calm the young Americans, putting them up 14-11 with 5:05 to go in the quarter.
The two teams traded the lead three teams down the stretch of the quarter with the Canadians holding a 23-21 edge at the end of the period. Napheesa Collier leveled the game with a basket early in the second quarter. The lead changed hands three more times with Christina Buttenham’s bucket with 8:25 to play in the half putting Canada up 28-27. The basket sparked a 5-0 run that Shaylisha Colley capped with a 3-pointer to put her team up 33-27 with 7:24 on the clock. The Americans chipped away at that six-point lead, but Collier again put the Canadians up by that margin at 35-29 with 6:44 to go until halftime.
It would be the final highlight for Canada as Team USA launched the decisive 25-6 run. Collier knotted the game at 35-35 at the 5:42 mark only to see the Canadians retake the lead on a pair of free throws from C. Creighton. After a Canada turnover, Marina Mabrey again drew the Americans even at 37-37 with 4:36 left in the half. From there the U.S. never looked back behind the offensive eruption from Collier, Mabrey and Kea and a defense that forced four turnovers down the stretch of the half that put the Americans up 54-41 in the locker room.
Team USA refused to allow the Canadians to get back in the game in the third quarter. After playing limited minutes in the first half with foul trouble, Wilson made up for lost time in the period. Her bucket with 6:22 to left in the period was her first since her only two points of the first half and put the U.S. up 64-45. She made it a 20-point advantage for the U.S. less than a minutes later and kept her foot on the gas, finishing the period with 14 points as Staley had her team pounding the ball inside throughout.
Collier and Turner led the U.S. offense with 22 and 21 points, respectively, and Wilson was next in line with her 16 in just 12 minutes of action. Team USA again dominated the paint, scoring 56 inside points, and had full command of the glass, outrebounding Canada 45-18.
As the winner of Group A, the U.S. will take on Group B’s second-place team in Argentina at 7:30 p.m. (ET) on Saturday in the semifinals. The winner will face the winner of the Brazil vs. Canada game in Sunday’s final at 7:30 p.m. (ET).