AP NEWS

U.S. women rout Canada fueled by former UConn stars

July 30, 2016 GMT

BRIDGEPORT — A visit from Team Canada presented the U.S. Women’s National Team one of their final tune-ups before departing for the Summer Olympics, however it would have been hard to blame anyone had they mistaken Friday night’s showcase for the UConn Reunion Tour.

In the U.S. team’s third of four exhibition games before departing next week for Brazil, Geno Auriemma ran out a starting lineup that provided a hearty dose of nostalgia for the home crowd.

Sparked by a quintet of former Huskies greats — Sue Bird, Tina Charles, Maya Moore, Breanna Stewart and Diana Taurasi — the U.S. jumped in front of Canada from the opening tip, cruising to an 83-43 victory at Webster Bank Arena.

The dominant showing only solidified the Americans’ status as gold medal favorites entering the Olympics. Paced by three scorers in double-figures, the U.S. overwhelmed a Canadian squad led by star UConn guard Kia Nurse.

Leading the U.S. was Taurasi with 14 points. Former Delaware star Elena Delle Donne scored 12 (10 in the first half) and Lindsay Whalen scored 11.

Cycling through a who’s who of WNBA all-stars, the U.S. stormed into halftime up 44-20. The lead only grew from there in the second half, as back-to-back 3-pointers by Taurasi and Stewart drew a roar from the crowd and pushed Canada’s deficit to 30.

Already 3-0 on a tour that included stops at the University of Southern California and the University of Delaware prior to Bridgeport, the U.S. will conclude their exhibition schedule on Sunday against medal-contender Australia in New York. The U.S. plans to practice in Houston on Tuesday before departing for Brazil, where they will bid for their sixth straight gold medal.

The Australians, who captured a bronze medal in 2012, tipped off Friday’s doubleheader with a 76-67 victory over France.

With a roster featuring five players with UConn ties and nine of the 12 faces from the 2012 gold-medal winning squad — Stewart, Delle Donne and Brittney Griner represent the lone newcomers — the U.S. dominated Canada defensively. They held the Canadians to just six points in the first quarter and five in the third. Canada shot only 32 percent from the floor, while the U.S. shot 53 percent.

Miah-Marie Langlois led Canada with 11 points. Nurse was scoreless on three attempts from the floor.

dbonjour@ctpost.com;