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BLOG: Darnell discusses sister Kia's NCAA career

Oilers d-man Darnell Nurse reflected on his sister Kia's NCAA basketball career with the UConn Huskies

by Ryan Frankson /

Darnell Nurse spent his Friday night in Calgary cheering on his little sister Kia competing 3,000 kilometres away in Columbus at the NCAA women's basketball Final Four.

Kia's Connecticut Huskies had won all 36 games they played this season heading into the national semifinal matchup against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who were also one of the top seeds at 33-3.

The youngest of the three Nurse siblings scored 10 points including a steal and layup with just seconds left in regulation to force overtime, but the Irish hit a buzzer-beater in the extra frame to upset the tournament's top seed 91-89 and advance to Sunday's championship game against Mississippi State.

It was Mississippi State's Bulldogs who did the same thing to Kia and the top-ranked Huskies one year earlier, knocking off the top seed in the national semifinal round. Despite the back-to-back heartbreaks, Kia concludes her NCAA career with back-to-back national titles in 2015 and 2016, and was also just named the 2018 NCAA defensive player of the year.

"What a career," said big brother Darnell following Oilers morning skate on Saturday. "A lot of accolades. Obviously it's tough the way it ended last night but I'm very proud of her. She was able to live out a dream that she had as a little kid. Hopefully that gets to continue as her career carries on."

Kia is part of the Canadian national women's team and has competed at both the Pan American Games (2015) and Summer Olympics (2016) already in her storied basketball career. Her next step? The WNBA, Darnell figures.

"I think that's her plan," he said. "We've talked about it a little bit. She's always been a basketball nut and always wants to be on the court, so I can't see her putting it down yet."

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