Rising UConn sophomore Kia Nurse brought glory to Canada on Monday night in the Gold Medal match at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto as Team Canada defeated Team USA 81-73 in Toronto.
Nurse was the best player on the court, scoring 33 points to lead the Canadian senior national team to their first gold medal in women's basketball at the Pan Am Games.
Team USA was made up of college players, including UConn seniors Breanna Stewart and Moriah Jefferson. Stewart scored a team-high 17 points, while Jefferson was limited to only 14 points after suffering an ankle injury in the first half and a head injury late in the second half.
The three Huskies got to display their skills against one another and in front of national television audience on ESPNU. Whenever Jefferson or Stewart scored, Nurse responded. It was really hard to root against any of these Huskies. The American duo suffered defeat for the first time since last November at Stanford. Nurse may have to wait a while as it's looking like next year's team is going to be absolutely loaded.
I am sure this usually happens all the time in practice or in pick-up games, but all three UConn players dove for a loose ball late in the fourth quarter with the game on the line. They were the only players from either team on the floor. Nurse and Jefferson had to leave the game after colliding with each other. Jefferson remained on the bench as she had suffered another minor injury earlier in the game. Nurse later came back to lead Canada to victory.
It was a great night for Nurse as she showed UConn fans and the college basketball world what she is capable of in a starring role. She was the point guard last year for the Huskies and often the last option on the offense. It now appears as though she will fill the void left by the departure of Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.
It was a tough night for Stewart. Just like most of the college basketball season, opposing defenders got away with overly physical play on her. They pushed her around the lane and just beat her up. This is something Stewart and UConn will have to continue to deal with next year.
The Pan Am Games are played every four years, in the year leading up to the Olympics. They cover most of the summer game events. Team USA medaled for the first time since 2007. It was the fifth silver medal for the U.S. and the first gold for the Canadians.