A Look Back: USA Rallies for 74-68 Win Over Canada in 2018 Exhibition
USA Basketball is streaming select national team exhibition contests every Tuesday (women) and Thursday (men) through July 9. This week’s women’s national team exhibition re-air is from Sept. 8, 2018, when the 2018 USA National Team earned a 74-68 come-from-behind victory over Canada ahead of the FIBA World Cup. The game will be streamed 8 p.m. EDT at USAB.com/live and on USA Basketball Twitter and Facebook pages. During the re-air, Napheesa Collier will recall her favorite memories from the homecoming game for her at UD against France.
The 2018 USA Basketball Women’s National Team overcame a 16-point deficit in a 74-68 win over Canada on Sept. 8, 2018 at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
The USA outscored Canada by 18 points in the final two quarters to avoid its first loss on home soil since a 65-64 exhibition defeat at the University of Tennessee on Nov. 7, 1999.
USA and University of South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley spoke about the positives of competing in a close game.
“Everyone is used to seeing us blow teams out, and obviously that didn’t happen tonight,”a Staley said. “This helps build chemistry. It helps me as a coach to see who we can call on.”
A’ja Wilson answered the call by leading the team with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Wilson, Napheesa Collier, Elizabeth Williams and Kelsey Plum played the entire fourth quarter. Layshia Clarendon played seven of the 10 fourth-quarter minutes.
All 15 players on the USA roster entered the game, and 10 played double-digit minutes. But the comeback was led by the group of Clarendon, Collier, Plum, Williams and Wilson.
“The group that was out there gave us what we needed,” Staley said. “Did I think about subbing? Yes, I did think about subbing, but they were playing so well together that I figured I would just let them finish the game out. Some games are going to be like that, and then there are some games where you need to insert other players.”
The USA was trailing 62-58 with 5:28 left in the fourth quarter when it closed the game on a 16-4 run and outscored Canada by 14 points in the period. The USA made 80.6% of its free throws. Wilson hit 9-of-10 from the line.
Nneka Ogwumike and Morgan Tuck each knocked down all four of their free throws while Clarendon made 6-of-8. Collier went 3-for-4 from the line.
“That’s what A’ja does,” Staley said of Wilson’s free-throw shooting. “If you look at what she did in the WNBA, I think she got to the free throw line the most of any player, so she was in line with what she does, which is draw fouls. Obviously, she does get buckets, but the stat I’m proud of is the double-digit rebounds.”
Wilson, who was sitting next to her college coach during the post-game press conference, smiled.
“Which is rare for her,” Staley said, and Wilson’s smile disappeared.
Wilson helped the USA grab 51 rebounds to Canada’s 38. The USA shooting percentage improved as the game went on. After making just 23% of its shots in the first three quarters, the USA made 53% of its field-goal attempts in the fourth.
“Once we came out in the second half, shots started falling, we picked it up on defense, and things just kept going well for us and we willed our way to a win,” Wilson said.
Williams, who had joined the team on Friday, had a big finish by hitting three of her four fourth-quarter shots on her way to scoring eight points. Clarendon and Plum also scored eight points.
“The biggest thing was just finding our rhythm,” Wilson said. “In the first half we were still trying to feel each other out. We were still trying to get a groove of the game and just getting a feel for the game as a whole with one another.”
The USA National Team went on to compile an overall exhibition record of 6-0 in 2018 prior to capturing the USA’s third-straight FIBA World Cup gold medal with an unblemished 6-0 slate.
Frank Bonner II was a contributor to USAB.com in 2018 as part of the Sports Capital Journalism Program at IUPUI. The story has been updated to reflect recent comments from Napheesa Collier reflecting on the game.