Senior Women's Team shows plenty of heart in opening game of USA Basketball Showcase
Newark, Del. - The Canadian Women's Olympic Team showed plenty of heart during a 80-67 loss to Australia on Wednesday in the opening game of the USA Basketball Showcase on Wednesday, a four-team tournament which serves as a tune-up for the Rio Summer Games.
Canada out-scored Australia in each of the last three quarters, and pulled within four points late in the contest after trailing by as much 23 during the first half at the Bob Carpenter Center on the University of Delaware campus.
Canada's starters included Miah-Marie Langlois, Nirra Fields, Kim Gaucher, Tamara Tatham and Miranda Ayim. Click here for full team roster.
“It was a good wake-up call for us“ said guard Shona Thorburn, who led Canada with 13 points. “It's coming down to the Olympics and we can't take the first 10 minutes to get into the game and get things rolling so I think we learned a valuable lesson tonight that teams are going to come out aggressive against us and we have to be the aggressors and be the ones that take to the aggressiveness first.”
Eight players scored at least five points for Canada, while the team's top rebounders were Tatham and Katherine Plouffe with four each. Australia's Penny Taylor led all players with 19 points. For game boxscore click here.
“It was a good learning experience and we hopefully we can take a lot of things from this game because we did do a lot of things well except for the first 10 minutes, so I'm excited to see how we bounce back and how our next game goes,” Thorbun added.
The teams began the game trading buckets back-and-forth, before Australia used a 13-2 run to take an 21-8 lead with just over three minutes remaining in the opening quarter. After 10 minutes score favoured Australia 29-13 while Shona Thorburn led Canada with four points.
Australia stretched its advantage to 36-13 early in the second quarter before Canada went on a 9-0 surge, holding the opposition without a point for more than four and a half minutes. Team Canada would ultimately out-score Australia 13-12 in the period, trimming the Aussies' lead to 41-26 at halftime.
Thorburn recorded seven points and Gaucher added six in the third quarter, as Canada continued to chip away, again out-scoring Australia, 25-24, to pull within 14 heading into the final period.
Trailing 69-55 in the opening moments of the fourth quarter, Canada launched a spirited rally, pouring in 10 straight points to cut Australia's lead down to 69-65 with more than four minutes left to play. The Aussies answered with 11 consecutive points of their own to hold on for the win, while Canada once more had the edge for the quarter, 16-15.
“We had a really tough start, we really lost the game in the first quarter, but the huge positive to take from it was our ability to pressure them a turn them over in the fourth quarter,” said head coach Lisa Thomaidis. “We were down 23 and brought it all the way back to being down four, so I thought there was some huge positives to that. It was definitely a great learning experience for us.”
The game marked the first SWNT appearances of 2016 for veterans Natalie Achonwa and Kia Nurse. Nurse recorded seven points and three boards in 22 minutes, while Achonwa logged 14 minutes and contributed four points to go with two rebounds.
“First games for Kia and Nat being back with our team, it takes a little bit of time to get them re-integrated and used to playing with these teammates, so we'll be better the next game, for sure, if we happen to see Australia again,” Thomaidis added.
Next on the schedule in the USA Basketball Showcase is a visit to the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Conn., where Team Canada will take on the host Americans on Friday at 7 p.m. EST. For full tournament schedule click here.
The 2016 Olympic women's basketball tournament begins Aug. 6 when Canada plays China.