Bridgeport, CT -- The 2016 USA Basketball Women's National Team and the 2016 Canadian Senior Women's National Team squared off Friday in an exhibition game held in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
United States head coach Geno Auriemma, gave the Connecticut-based fans a bit of a flashback by starting all five former University of Connecticut athletes on this year's national team, including Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart.
"I thought it was great to be able to come back to Bridgeport," Stewart said after the game. "The fan support here is tremendous, and it gave our team a lot of energy."
Just 10 seconds into the game, Taurasi opened up Team USA's scoring with a three-ball. Canada's Tamara Tatham sank two free throws about a minute later, but scoring slowed up for both teams soon thereafter.
With less than five minutes to go in the quarter, Tina Charles sunk a turnaround hook in the lane for the US to put her team up 7-4. Maya Moore followed with a long two to stretch the US lead.
Elena Delle Donne hit two free throws to make it 11-4, US, then spun into the lane for a bucket on the next US possession. Lindsay Whalen contributed with two baskets with less than two minutes to go to put it at 19-6 US at the end of the quarter.
"We really struggled at the offensive end to put the ball in the hoop," Canada head coach Lisa Thomaidis said. "USA just does so many things defensively with their length and athleticism that really changes how you want to play the game."
Delle Donne started an offensive surge for Team USA in the second quarter, scoring six points throughout the frame to end the half with a game-leading 10 points.
Taurasi hit another three with about four minutes to go in the half, putting the US up 33-13. A few possessions later, Delle Donne hit Taurasi with a bullet pass inside to put the US up 37-17.
Delle Donne then took control of the next few possessions; with 1:58 to go in the half, she caught a pass inside, hung in the air, and banked in a layup on the right side. On the next US offensive possession, she made the same move, and got the same result.
Natalie Achonwa sunk two free throws for Canada late in the second quarter, but the US held onto a dominant 44-20 lead at the half. Miah-Marie Langlois led Canada with six points at the break.
Team USA's defense stepped up in the third quarter, forcing six Canadian turnovers - including a shot clock violation - and limiting Canada to just five points in the frame.
"We went in with the idea [that] we want to be a lot better - or even a little bit better, but just better - today than we were in the France game," Auriemma said. "I thought we were. I thought defensively we were about as good as we can be given the short amount of work that we've done."
Sylvia Fowles got the US bench on its feet with an and-1 with about three minutes to go in the third, putting the US on top 63-25. Seimone Augustus then took advantage of a sagging Canadian defense and hit a knockdown two a few possessions later. After three-quarters, Team USA led 65-25.
The US lead hovered near the 40s throughout the fourth quarter, allowing Delle Donne and the US starters some time on the bench. Langlois gave a burst of life to Canada with a three with less than six minutes to go in the game, but an and-1 from Whalen on the other end cut the Canadian momentum short and gave the US a 77-37 edge.
Team USA broke into the 80s with an Angel McCoughtry hoop to make it 81-39 with 3:30 to go in the game. The US held onto win 83-43 behind 14 points from Taurasi, 12 from Delle Donne and 11 from Whalen. Langlois finished with 11 to lead Canada.
"When you have a group of players like this that are going to...play hard, they're going to compete every possession," Auriemma said, "that's what's going to be necessary to win a gold medal."
The US will face Australia in its last exhibition game Sunday at 4 p.m. before heading to Rio.