Kia Nurse keys Canada comeback vs. France at FIBA World Cup
Canada gets bye to quarter-finals after erasing 10-point halftime deficit
Kia Nurse had a game-high 18 points and six assists as Canada earned a bye into the quarter-finals of the FIBA Women's World Cup with a come-from-behind 71-60 win over France on Tuesday.
Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe added 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Canadians (3-0), who finished at the top of their pool and earned a bye into Friday's quarter-finals. Canada will face either host Spain or Senegal, who meet in a qualifying game on Wednesday.
Watch highlights of Canada's win over France:
"We understand that winning he pool is great but there's so much more to come," Nurse said. "So to be able to put ourselves in this situation to go in, have two days off, give us a chance to be able to scout a little extra, get some practice in and work on things we want to get better at, it's a great situation."
Canada, ranked fifth in the world, trailed No. 3 France by 15 points in the first quarter and 10 points at the half. But the Canadians chipped away at the lead in the third quarter before taking the lead early in the fourth.
France hung around and tied the game at 55 with about five minutes left in the game before Canada put it away with a 15-0 run.
"I thought we settled into our defence a little bit more (in the second half), I thought we were way more aggressive, defending the ball a little bit better," Canada head coach Lisa Thomaidis said. "Kia got some steals and deflections. It wasn't a matter of changing anything, it was just a matter of playing our game."
Shay Colley added 12 points for Canada while Natalie Achonwa had nine points and 10 boards.
Sandrine Gruda led France with 14 points, while Olivia Epoupa had 13 points and seven rebounds.
Canada improved its all-time record against France at the World Cup to 4-2 and got a measure of revenge against the team that knocked it out of the quarter-finals at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
"We have a lot of history with France and knew it was going to be a tough game, and this was one we wanted to get," Thomaidis said. "At the end of the day, you have to win every single game."
Canada could be in tough in the quarter-finals if it faces No. 2 Spain, which failed to advance directly into the final eight when it was stunned 72-63 by Belgium on Tuesday and finished second in its pool.
"For us it's going to be a matter of coming out and executing through whatever we need to," Nurse said. "I think a lot of us are fortunate to have played in situations where maybe we're not the favourite in the gym, and it's just a matter of trying to make sure we focus on us."