Nurse scores 25 as Canada’s comeback falls short against France


Kia Nurse scored a game-high 25 points in Canada's loss to France. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

ANTIBES, France — Kia Nurse poured in a game-high 25 points and added five rebounds in a losing effort as the Canadian women’s basketball team fell to France 72-68 on Sunday in a tune-up ahead the FIBA World Cup.

Miranda Ayim was the only other Canadian in double figures with 13 points and five rebounds.

Marine Johannes paced France with 16 points and three rebounds, while Alexia Chartereau and Sandrine Gruda had 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Nurse said despite the loss she appreciated the opportunity to feel out France, which Canada will face again at the World Cup on Sept. 25.

"It was a hard fought battle. When you get to test yourself against No. 4 in the world it’s a tough challenge every time we play them," she said.

"I think every opportunity we get to work on our weaknesses and our strengths against them is great, especially since we have them in our pool play for the tournament. We’ll only continue to get better from there."

Canada was behind by 10 points with less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter before the squad went on a 12-2 run — including back-to-back three-pointers by Nurse — to even the game at 68-68 with a minute remaining.

However, France’s Sarah Michel proceeded to nail two free throws, and a turnover forced Canada to foul Olivia Epoupa, who hit another pair from the charity stripe to seal the win.

Canada’s head coach Lisa Thomaidis said the loss to France exposed some correctable flaws in the team’s game.

"They’re a team that’s ranked fourth in the world for a reason and we have to be better than that if we’re going to beat them," she said.

"There are a number of things that are completely under our control that we know we can clean up for next time. It was a great opportunity to play them and get an advanced look before we play for keeps."

The Canadian squad also lost to the reigning Olympic champion United States 84-68 in an exhibition on Saturday.

Canada is slated to face Senegal in another tune-up Monday.

The Canadians open the World Cup on Sept. 22 against Greece in Tenerife, Spain.

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