Kia Nurse scored 18 points and Canada rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to beat rival France 71-60 and win Group A at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup on Tuesday night.
With the victory, Canada clinched a bye to the quarterfinals. It was a measure of revenge for Canada against France, which eliminated them at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The game was tied at 55 with 5:05 left before Canada (3-0) scored the next 15 points. Nurse started the run with two free throws and had seven points and an assist during the spurt. By the time Sarah Michel hit two free throws with 1:07 left, Canada had the game in hand. France missed six shots, a few free throws and had two turnovers during its drought.
Sandrine Gruda scored 14 points and Olivia Epoupa had 13 for France.
With that game over, the quarterfinal qualifiers are set.
Spain will play Senegal, Nigeria will face Greece, Japan will play China and France will meet Turkey.
Emma Meesseman's layup at the buzzer helped Belgium win Group C at the Women's Basketball World Cup with a 72-63 victory over Spain.
Belgium won the three-way tiebreaker that included Japan by point differential.
The host nation, by finishing second, avoided potentially playing the U.S. until the gold-medal game. If Spain either won the game or lost by seven points or fewer, it would have won the group and clinched a bye until the quarterfinals. Belgium now could meet the Americans in the semifinals if both teams win their quarterfinal games.
Spain (2-1) will face Senegal on Wednesday in the quarterfinal qualifier.
The Spaniards were down by double digits for most of the game and trailed by nine with 1.1 seconds remaining when Marta Xargay was fouled. She made both free throws. Because the point differential mattered, Belgium called timeout and advanced the ball to midcourt.
Meesseman caught the inbounds pass from Julie Allemand and made the uncontested layup at the buzzer, setting off a wild celebration by the first-time World Cup participants.
Kim Mestdagh had 21 points and Meeseman added 19 for Belgium (2-1).
Alba Torrens scored 16 points and Xargay added 13 for Spain.
Promise Amukamara scored 16 points to help Nigeria beat Argentina 75-70 and secure a spot in the quarterfinal qualifier of the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup.
Nigeria (2-1), which didn't win a game in its other appearance in the World Cup, in 2006, has won its last two. The African nation will face Greece on Wednesday when it tries to earn a spot in the quarterfinals.
No African nation had ever advanced out of the preliminary round. Now Nigeria and Senegal are among the final 12 teams.
"It feels good off the back of making history with our first win against Turkey to have now followed it up by beating Argentina," Nigeria guard Ezinne Kalu said. "We're working hard and staying focused. It is exciting for us making more and more history with a team that is very closely bonded together, and we want to continue on this journey for longer."
Nigeria was up three points heading into the final quarter and three times Argentina got within a single point but couldn't take the lead.
It was 61-60 with 3:08 left when Evelyn Akhator scored and Amukamara had a steal that eventually led to another basket for Nigeria and a five-point lead with 2:39 to go.
Argentina could only get within three the rest of the way.
Melisa Gretter had 21 points and Victoria Llorente added 19 for Argentina (0-3).
Brittney Griner scored 15 points in her first game of the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup to lead the U.S. to a 102-76 victory over Latvia.
Griner missed the first two games with a mildly sprained right ankle and came in midway through the first quarter in this one. She scored six straight during a stretch in the second quarter, including an impressive post move where she faked out her defender.
With Latvia hanging around in the second half only down 11, Griner took over. She scored the first seven points during a 17-0 run to close the third quarter, including a 3-point play with 2:16 left. A'ja Wilson then scored the next seven points and Latvia was finished.
Anete Steinberga led Latvia with 30 points.
Meng Li scored 15 points and China held off Senegal 75-66 to advance to the quarterfinal qualifier.
China (2-1) finished second in the group and will know which team it will play later in the day.
The Chinese team was up 10 with six minutes left before Senegal (1-2) cut its deficit to 68-66 with 1:25 to go on Dieme Bintu's layup. Sun Mengran answered with a hook shot as China scored the final seven points of the game.
Senegal advanced to the qualifier also, the first time an African country has done that, and will also have to wait to see who it will play.
Astou Traore scored 21 to lead Senegal.
Artemis Spanou scored 13 points to help Greece advance to the quarterfinal qualifier with a 58-48 win over South Korea.
Greece (1-2) did it for the most part without star Evanthia Maltsi, who was bothered by what appeared to be a back issue. She was helped off the court and back to the locker room with about five minutes left in the game after the team medical staff was working on her on the sideline for about 10 minutes. Maltsi became the oldest player in Women's Basketball World Cup history at 39 to score more than 20 points when she had 28 points in the loss to France on Sunday.
She had only three against South Korea (0-3), but still became the country's all-time leader in games played for Greece with her 211th appearance. She passed Sofia Kligopoulou for No. 1 on the list.
Greece, which is playing in its second World Cup ever, will have to wait until later Tuesday to learn who it plays in the next round.
Mariella Fasoula, who scored six points for Greece, attends Vanderbilt and was one of a handful of college players competing in the World Cup .
South Korea was led by Leeseul Kang, who had 10 points.
Liz Cambage scored 24 of her 25 points in the first half, hitting her first 11 shots, to help Australia rout Turkey 90-64 on the final day of group play at the FIBA World Cup.
The 6-foot-8 Australia center was unstoppable in the 12-plus minutes she played as she helped her team build a 53-33 halftime lead.
"I had a really good season in the WNBA and it really helped my confidence. I was looking to get stronger mentally and to get better," Cambage said. "I did that this year and I have taken it into this tournament. Sandy (Brondello) is such a great coach and we have such a great group of girls. It is exciting times for the Opals."
With the big advantage, Cambage played sparingly in the second half.
Cayla George added 12 points and Sami Whitcomb had 11 for Australia (3-0), which clinched first place in its pool.
Quanitra Hollingsworth scored 11 points to lead Turkey (1-2).
Yuki Miyazawa scored 15 points and Maki Takada adder 14 to help Japan beat Puerto Rico 69-61 on the final day of group play at the FIBA Women's World Cup.
Japan advanced to the second round where it will play rival China or Senegal.
Leading 27-25 midway through the second quarter, Monica Okoye hit a 3-pointer to start a 13-0 run for Japan (2-1). By the time Ashley Perez connected on a 3-pointer for Puerto Rico, it was 40-28.
Japan led by 15 at the half and the lead ballooned to 19 before Puerto Rico rallied to get within six early in the fourth quarter, but could get no closer.
Despite the early 11 a.m. tip time, the crowd was loud and energized. The local organizing committee brought in school kids to fill the stands. They made flags and signs to support the two teams and also brought in drums, creating a festive atmosphere. Usually camp and school days in the WNBA have the kids cheering for the home team. Here, with the kids equally divided, both sides had loud support.
"It was a great atmosphere, even better than WNBA kids games because they were cheering for both sides," said Jazmon Gwathmey, who scored 23 points for Puerto Rico and plays for the Indiana Fever in the WNBA.
Jennifer O'Neill added 20 for Puerto Rico (0-3), which went winless in its first World Cup.
The crowds for the opening two days of play at the FIBA Women's World Cup have been strong with games taking place over the weekend.
With the final day of the preliminary round on a Tuesday, the local organizing committee brought in school kids to fill the stands for the early 11 a.m. tip. They made flags and signs to support the two teams and also brought in drums, creating a festive atmosphere. Usually camp and school days in the WNBA have the kids cheering for the home team. Here, with the kids equally divided, both sides had loud support.
The Puerto Rico and Japan players looked up in the stands, smiling and waving before the game at their new supporters.
About the only glitch was the kids making noise during the national anthems.
In a matchup of unbeaten teams, Canada and France will cap the third day of preliminary round play at the FIBA Women's World Cup on Tuesday.
The winner of that game will secure first place in Group A and potentially avoid playing the U.S. until the gold medal game if both teams advance that far.
Canada was ousted from the Olympics in the quarterfinals by France in 2016.
Other games on Tuesday include U.S.-Latvia; Japan-Puerto Rico; Australia-Turkey; South Korea-Greece; Senegal-China; Argentina-Nigeria and Belgium-Spain.
The U.S., Australia and Spain have pretty much already wrapped up the top seeds in the other groups.
Senegal and Nigeria are trying to become the first two African teams ever to advance out of pool play. On Sunday, they became the first to ever win a preliminary round game.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports