The Senior Women’s National Team (SWNT) will leave the Czech Republic with a perfect 2-0 record following the team’s thrilling 67-65 victory. Team Canada opened the two-game exhibition series with a strong 58-52 win on Tuesday. The Canadians, ranked ninth in the world by FIBA, showed resiliency and heart in defeating a determined fourth-ranked Czech side.
The Red and White came out energized and dashed out to a quick lead on the strength of Courtnay Pilypaitis’s deft scoring touch. As she had done in the first game, the native of Orleans, Ontario opened the game’s scoring. She then drained a pair of shots from long-range to propel Canada to a 9-2 lead. The jubilation would be short-lived however, as the Czech side responded in full-force with a 17-0 run. As the buzzer sounded, the SWNT found itself down 25-15.
The second quarter began in much the same way as the Czech Republic pushed its lead to 17 points before Guelph, Ontario’s Natalie Achonwa scored to put Canada back on the board. From there, the team seemed to regain its step and a third Pilypaitis three would cap a 12-0 run for the Canadian side. That five-point differential however, was as close as Canada would get as the teams headed to their locker rooms with the Czech Republic holding a 37-30 advantage.
Veteran Kim Smith continued to make her presence felt in Prague by leading Canada to an impressive run to begin the third quarter. The native of Mission, B.C. scored 7 points and added a rebound and an assist – all within 2:28 – as the SWNT went ahead 41-37. The back-and-forth affair would continue throughout the frame before Regina, Saskatchewan’s Krysten Boogaard knotted the game at 50 points with a buzzer-beater.
The two sides continued to mirror one another down-the-stretch. A good defensive play at one end led to a quick steal at the other. A made three-pointer was answered by two made-free throws and another tally. It was quickly becoming clear that the game would come down to a single shot made at an opportune time. East Preston, N.S. native Justine Colley responded when called upon; Smith threw the pass and Colley put up the three with just four seconds remaining to complete the comeback.
Head coach Lisa Thomaidis appreciated the timely offence, but credits another source for the victory. “It was a great come-from-behind win. We picked up our defensive intensity which then helped us get out and get quality offensive scores.” Boogaard, who finished the game with 10 points, three rebounds and two assists, added that, “we played hard as a team. We fixed some things from last night and we are looking to continue to improve and get better.”
For additional game information, including box scores and play-by-play, please visit FIBA Live Stats.
The SWNT’s European tour continues this Friday as the team travels to Belgrade, Serbia for a four-team tournament against the national teams of the host country, Montenegro and Italy.