SYDNEY, Australia (Sept. 25, 2022) - The Canadian Senior Women’s National Team defeated Japan 70-56 to remain undefeated at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022 and secure a spot in the quarterfinals.
Canada was led by a 19-point performance from Bridget Carleton, 13 points from Shay Colley and 10 points, six rebounds and five assists from Laeticia Amihere. Kayla Alexander added 11 rebounds and Nirra Fields had nine points.
Maki Takada led Japan with 11 points in the loss.
“That was a big game for us,” Carleton said. “Obviously we played Japan in February, we were up by a lot and they ended up forcing it to overtime and we ended up losing. That was kind of on the back of our minds today but, again, it felt good to win. That’s a tough team, they’re hard to play against, they’re fast, they like to shoot the three-ball so it’s a tough matchup, [so it's] definitely good to come away with the win. And it felt good to see some shots go in for me.”
Carleton shot 8-for-14 from the floor, including 2-for-5 from beyond the arc while adding six rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block in 32 minutes of action.
She scored Canada’s first five points of the game after the team went scoreless until the 6:04 mark of the opening quarter. The Canadians quickly shook off the slow start to go in front after a pair of free throws from Amihere with 3:53 remaining in the quarter.
Canada’s defence ignited their offence and a layup for Kia Nurse extended the lead to five before Amihere grabbed an offensive rebound and found Fields for a three to put Canada in front by eight after the opening 10 minutes.
After a strong start to the second quarter from Japan, free throws from Stephanie Mawuli brought Japan back within three points with 4:36 remaining in the half. From there, Canada took complete control of the game, closing the half on a 13-0 run to go in front by 16, 41-25, at the break.
Canada shot 45 percent in the half while their defence helped hold Japan to just 29 percent shooting, while also forcing 10 turnovers. Amihere was everywhere in the first two quarters, recording five assists and five rebounds to go with six points at the break.
“I think we had control of the game all the time, except maybe the last minutes when they were super tired,” Team Canada head coach Víctor LaPeña said. “For that, I am very proud of my players because we are growing up as a team. They trust a lot in me and in the coaches and it means I can think about how we are able to win [against] Japan doing this, this and this, and they try to execute perfectly.
“Just congratulations to my players because today was a master class to have the control of the game and it’s because they are very ready to do it," LaPeña continued.
Canada outrebounded Japan 48-34 and held a 17-10 edge in second chance points and an 11-7 advantage in steals.
Alexander opened the second half with a layup to extend Canada’s lead to 18. After a jumper from Colley, Canada led by 20. Back-to-back threes from Monica Okoye brought Japan within 15, but Canada continued to score, closing the quarter on a 9-0 run – with Carleton scoring seven of the nine – to go into the fourth leading 61-39.
After Japan opened the fourth with a 7-0 run to get within 15, Canada called a timeout with 7:48 remaining. For the third consecutive game, Team Canada showed poise when their opponent attempted a push. Carleton came up big for Canada once again, hitting her second three of the game after Achonwa found her outside the arc to extend the lead back to 18. Despite Japan’s strong start to the quarter, Canada’s lead was never in doubt in the final frame.
Canada will face host-team Australia on Monday at 6:30 a.m. ET in front of a packed crowd of passionate fans rooting on the home team. Canada is determined not to let that affect their game plan.
“Every game we go into we think we can win,” Carleton said. “We think we should win. Our goal is always to be on the podium so this is exactly where we want to be. 3-0. We’re going to enjoy this, but get some rest and recovery tonight because we have one [Monday] again against the home crowd in a tough environment."