After Kia Nurse scored 33 points for the Canadian national team against the United States in the Pan American Games final last month, Nurse's University of Connecticut teammate -- but opponent that night -- Breanna Stewart gave her a hug and said, "Really? You picked today to do that?"
Now Cuba's national team knows how Stewart felt.
Nurse scored 20 points Sunday night and was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player as Team Canada won the FIBA Americas Championship gold medal and clinched a berth in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro with an 82-66 victory over Cuba in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
"It's an incredible experience," Nurse said during the postgame press conference. "Our team was pumped about this, for sure. To be able to do it, and to do a year in advance, and play as well as we did throughout the whole tournament was amazing. Edmonton really stepped up and came out an supported us every single day and we couldn't be more thankful for that."
It will be the second straight Olympic appearance for Team Canada. A year ago at the 2014 FIBA world championships, the Canadians finished fifth.
"We haven't peaked, especially with some of these young players," Team Canada coach Lisa Thomaidis said. "The amount that everyone improved from last year to this year was remarkable. If they do it again next year, who knows what's possible."
Canada is the fourth team to earn one of the 12 Olympic berths joining the United States, Serbia, and host Brazil. Team USA, coached by UConn's Geno Auriemma, earned its bid by winning gold at the world championships.
In capturing MVP honors, Nurse averaged 13.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.0 steals in 25.2 minutes per game. The 19-year-old Hamilton, Ontario native shot 51.0 percent from the floor, 40.0 percent from 3-point land, and 78.6 percent from the foul line.
This following her stunning performance a month ago in Toronto that gave the Canadians their first Pan Am gold.
"It really has been an incredible summer," Nurse said. "To be a part of it has been absolutely phenomenal.
"We have goals to go into tournaments like this and we want to win the tournament. If you look at the team and you look at the depth that we have and the talent that we have, the sky's the limit. We knew that. We knew that if we continued to work each and every day, then we could be successful."
Team Canada, which routed Cuba 92-43 last Thursday in Group A pool play, fell behind by as many as eight in the first quarter Sunday night. But the hosts scored the last five points of the first quarter and the first nine of the second to take the lead. It was 44-35 at halftime.
Cuba started the second half on an 11-0 run to regain the lead and held a 50-49 edge with 5:44 left in the third quarter. But Team Canada responded with a decisive 16-2 run to take command.
Kim Gaucher hit two free throws and Nurse scored to get it started. Clenia Noblet answered for Cuba but then Miah-Marie Langlois and former Notre Dame standout Natalie Achonwa had hoops to make it 57-52. Six straight points by Nurse and a basket by Langlois completed the spurt.
It was 65-54 going to the fourth quarter and Cuba got no closer than 10 the rest of the way.
"Nothing's going to surprise us with Cuba anymore," Thomaidis said. "We knew what they were capable of. They did things tonight they haven't shown all tournament. We knew that would likely be the case."
Nurse finished 8-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-6 from the foul line while adding three rebounds and three assists. Achonwa had 12 points.
Up next for Nurse? School. Fall semester classes at UConn start Aug. 31.
Argentina defeated Brazil 66-59 for the bronze medal.