Rough fourth quarter dooms Canada in World Cup loss to Spain


Canada’s Kia Nurse. (Jessica Hill/AP)

TENERIFE, Spain — The Canadian women’s basketball team simply couldn’t stop the home side’s run in the fourth quarter on Friday.

As a result, Canada fell short of its goal of advancing to the FIBA World Cup semifinals.

Second-ranked Spain, the host team, went on a 19-0 run to open the fourth and beat No. 5-ranked Canada 68-53 in the final quarterfinal.

All told, Spain outscored Canada 21-3 in the fourth quarter. Shay Colley’s free throw with 1:44 left finally put Canada on the board.

"I thought we gave ourselves a chance," Canada coach Lisa Thomaidis said. "Unfortunately, there was a lid on the basket in the fourth quarter for us. We had a lead going in, got shots that we normally make, and unfortunately they didn’t go for us. Credit to Spain, they had something to do with that. But they came down and they made some tough shots."

It was the second quarterfinal loss in a row for Canada at the World Cup, which is held every four years. Canada hasn’t advanced to the semis since 1986.

It marked the fourth major competition (Olympics, World Cup) in a row in which Canada has lost in the quarterfinals.

Canada went 3-0 in the opening round to earn a direct berth to the quarters, but drew a tough opponent in Spain, which won silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

"I thought we battled hard," Thomaidis said. "I said we can be disappointed with the result but not with the effort. This team fought like crazy, did the things we needed to do, the difference was we just couldn’t make enough baskets tonight.

"We battled on the boards, we did a good job on their key players, they had some rotation players that came in and really hurt us, so credit to their depth. There’s a reason why they’re the world’s No. 2."

Spain will now face Australia in the semifinals on Saturday. Canada will face China in a classification game. The best Canada can finish is fifth.

When asked if Spain did anything different defensively in the fourth quarter, Thomaidis said, "I think they were very concerned about our speed and athleticism, and they were starting to really pack the paint. So we weren’t getting to the rim, we stopped making shots.

"We got in kind of deep and they took care of our kick-outs and kind of exploited us a little bit that way. We’re still young, this team has really improved at a rapid rate, but in the grand scheme of things we’re still pretty young."

Canadian star Kia Nurse led the team with 15 points. Colley added 13.

Astou Ndour scored a game-high 16 points for Spain.

Canada outscored Spain by five in the third quarter to take a 50-47 lead entering the final frame. The visitors’ shooting percentage improved to 39 per cent through three quarters, up 13 per cent.

Canada trailed by just two, 29-27, at halftime despite shooting just 26 per cent from the field, compared to Spain’s 39 per cent clip.

Nurse was 1-for-9 from the field in the first half. Colley led Canada with 10 points, on 3-for-3 shooting, in the first half.

While Canada avoided a play-in game by virtue of its perfect record in the opening round, Spain advanced to the quarterfinals with a 63-48 win over Senegal on Wednesday.

Upstart Belgium will face the top-ranked United States in the other semifinal. Belgium, ranked 28th in the world, hammered France 86-65 in quarterfinal play, while the Americans downed Nigeria 71-40.

Australia crushed China 83-42.

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