BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- A'ja Wilson had 15 points and 10 rebounds to help the U.S. women's national team rally from a 16-point first-half deficit and beat Canada 74-68 on Saturday night in an exhibition game.
The U.S. was shockingly down 16 in the first quarter and trailed 56-48 heading into the fourth quarter before finally getting going. Wilson, who was the AP WNBA rookie of the year, along with her Las Vegas Aces teammate Kelsey Plum, keyed the change in the fourth. The Americans hadn't lost a game on home soil since 1999, when they dropped an exhibition contest at Tennessee. The U.S.' last loss overall came in 2014 in France in a pre-world cup tournament.
The Americans were missing many of their players who will be competing in the FIBA Women's World Cup, which begins later this month in Tenerife, Canary Islands. Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and Elena Delle Donne are still playing in the WNBA Finals. Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner just saw their WNBA season end after Phoenix was eliminated in the semifinals. The five Olympians are expected to be part of the team that plays in the world cup.
Even without those stars, the U.S. had 13 WNBA players on its team Saturday, including former WNBA MVPs Tina Charles and Nneka Ogwumike.
The Americans just started training together this week, while the majority of the Canadian team had been together for months.
The U.S. got off to a sluggish start, shooting just 19 percent in the first half (5-for-27) and trailed 40-28 at the break. The Americans were able to stay in the game by going 18-for-24 from the free throw line. Kia Nurse gave Canada its early cushion and finished the game with 22 points.
The Americans trailed by eight heading into the fourth quarter, and a quick basket by Canada made it a double-digit deficit. That's when Wilson and Plum got going. Her 3-pointer with 4:10 left gave the U.S. its first lead since 2-0. Wilson then added two free throws.
After a Canada basket, both teams went scoreless for a bit before Elizabeth Williams' layup with just under 2 minutes left made it a five-point game, and Canada got no closer than three the rest of the way.
The U.S. will play Japan on Monday in an exhibition game in Washington. Canada beat Japan on Friday night.