The Senior Women’s National Team (SWNT) has opened the summer competitive season with a 58-52 win over the Czech Republic in exhibition play. After last week’s tryout by invitation and training camp in Hamilton, Ont., the team embarked on its first trip of the summer and headed to Prague. 

The excitement and energy could be felt on the court as the team opened the game with a 3-pointer from Courtnay Pilypaitis. A back-and-forth first quarter saw both sides exchange baskets and trade leads. The first 10 would end in the same way the game began – with another Pilypaitis basket – this time a two to put the Canadian side up 15-11.

The Red and White would stretch their lead to 11 in the second following a steal and a bucket by Oregon State University’s Ruth Hamblin. The Czech squad responded by cutting the lead to four before Canada re-took control of the match. Veteran Kim Smith would push the lead back to 8 with a pair of free throws to close out the half with Team Canada leading 34-26.

The Czech Republic came out determined and focused in the third quarter. Powered by a pair of threes from Katerina Krizova, the team would build a 4-point lead with 3 minutes remaining in the quarter. The see-saw battle would continue before Regina, Saskatchewan’s Krysten Boogaard cut the lead to one to close out the period with Canada down 43-42.

The resilient Canadians opened the fourth with renewed energy. Two minutes into the quarter, Guelph’s Natalie Achonwa stole the ball and scored to put Canada ahead 46-45 – a lead they did not relinquish. The Czech Republic would bring the game to a one-point margin with a 3-point play by Jana Vesela, but Team Canada showed character and resolve in scoring the next five points to deflate the Czech’s momentum.

Head coach Lisa Thomaidis was pleased with the effort noting that, “today was a great first game for us. We are working on giving maximal effort for 40 minutes, and we were very close to achieving that. Having been together for such a short time, we have much to improve upon, but it feels great to get that first win of the summer.”

Canada’s leading scorer in the game, Smith, echoed her coach’s sentiments. “It was a solid start to the 2013 summer. We have a lot of younger players who got their first taste of competition with the senior team and we have some great film to break down and get better. Always great to get a win.”

The SWNT will return to the court tomorrow to wrap-up the two-game series before traveling to Belgrade, Serbia to play in a four-team tournament with Serbia, Montenegro and Italy.

To view FIBA Live Stats for the game, including game leaders, boxscore, play-by-play and shot chart, click here