Kia Nurse and the Canadian senior national team will need to win two games this weekend at the FIBA Americas Championship to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The University of Connecticut sophomore scored a game high 14 points Thursday as Team Canada captured the top seed in Group A with a 92-43 rout of Cuba in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Team Canada (4-0) will face Brazil (3-1) in the first semifinal Saturday at 8 p.m. (EDT), followed by Argentina (4-0) taking on Cuba (3-1). Argentina, after leading by as many as 18 in the first half, needed a game-closing 10-2 run to defeat Brazil 73-69 and clinch the top seed out of Group B.
The gold-medal game is Sunday. The tournament champion receives an automatic bid to the 2016 Games. However, if Brazil defeats Canada Saturday, the Argentina-Cuba winner will advance to Rio de Janeiro regardless of Sunday's result as Brazil has been given an Olympic berth as the host country.
The United States, coached by UConn's Geno Auriemma, has already clinched a 2016 Olympic bid by virtue of winning the gold medal at the 2014 FIBA world championships.
Nurse was 4-for-10 from the floor and hit all five of her free throws Thursday. She also had two rebounds, three assists, and two steals in 26 minutes.
Team Canada held Cuba without a field goal for the first 9:34 of the second quarter and a 16-1 burst helped the hosts build an insurmountable 42-19 lead at halftime.
Five Canadians scored in double figures with former Notre Dame standout Natalie Achonwa of the WNBA's Indiana Fever adding 12 points.
Nurse has been solid as Team Canada coasted through pool play. The 6-foot guard is averaging 12.3 points and 2.8 rebounds in 20.0 minutes per outing. She is shooting 55.6 percent from the floor and from 3-point land, and 87.5 percent from the foul line.