ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia (Sept. 17, 2023) - Back-to-back sounds just fine to Team Canada. The Canadian 3x3 Women’s team defeated France 16-15 on a last-second layup from Paige Crozon on Sunday to win the Ulaanbaatar Final and defend their Women’s Series stop title.
Canada came into the Final as the top-ranked seed, leading all teams with five Women's Series stop victories this season.
“France is such a tough opponent,” Crozon said. “We’ve played them so many times, both in the Women’s Series and the World Cup. We have so much respect for what they do. That game came right down to the wire. It was a very emotional game. We’re so happy to come out on top and be victorious in the Women’s Series Final.”
Canada pulled out the victory after losing their MVP – and series stop MVP – Michelle Plouffe to a knee injury in the final minutes of the game. Katherine Plouffe had 10 of Canada’s 16 points in the win while Crozon added three points, none bigger than that final layup to secure the title.
Laeticia Guapo led France with nine points in the loss.
“Our mindset after was let’s do it for Michelle,” Crozon said. “She’s been the heart of our team and we really just wanted to represent our heart, and all that she’s contributed, so we really tried to battle very hard for her down the stretch.”
The final was close throughout with neither team leading by more than two points at any time. After a two-pointer from Guapo moved France in front by a point, Kacie Bosch skied high for a block inside to earn Canada an extra possession. A layup from Crozon brought Canada within a point, 9-8, with 4:25 remaining, and then it was Michelle Plouffe who blocked Hortense Limouzin under the basket.
A missed two from Michelle Plouffe ended up in the hands of Katherine Plouffe who scored inside. After a steal for Canada, Katherine scored again inside, tying the game at 11 points with 2:40 remaining. After Michelle Plouffe went out with a knee injury, Canada used the timeout to regroup.
Katherine Plouffe grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled on her putback attempt. WIth France over the foul limit, she shot two free throws, making one of two to give Canada a one-point lead, 12-11, with 2:15 remaining. She scored again on her own offensive rebound to give Canada a two-point lead with under a minute remaining.
A drive from Guapo brought France within a point, and then Guapo hit a two to put France up one, 14-13 with 23.1 seconds remaining.
Katherine Plouffe took the ball all the way to the rim and was fouled by Guapo with 14.2 seconds remaining. She made the first free throw to tie the game and then the second to give Canada a 15-14 lead. Limouzin tied the game on a layup with seven seconds remaining, but Crozon scored on a layup at the buzzer to give Canada the win and the Series Final.
Prior to the final, Canada dominated in a 21-12 semifinals victory over the USA as Crozon was lights out from deep, finishing with 10 points as she made all four of her attempts from beyond the arc. Katherine Plouffe added five points and seven rebounds and Michelle Plouffe had four points, five rebounds, a block and three highlights.
They’re a great team,” Crozon said. “They have so much talent. We’ve battled against them so many times throughout the women’s 3x3 season so we have a lot of respect for all of the players on the team and their commitment to 3x3. It was definitely a battle. They fought to the end so it was a really good game.”
Canada led throughout the semifinal, building a quick 8-2 lead behind hot-shooting from Crozon from deep. A corner two from Bosch extended Canada’s lead to nine points, 12-3, with 6:30 remaining. The Canadians continued to roll as Crozon and Linnae Harper exchanged two-pointers and Katherine Plouffe scored inside on back-to-back possessions to give Canada a 17-7 lead with less than five minutes remaining.
After Bosch found Katherine Plouffe inside for another layp, Crozon’s fourth three of the game moved Canada in position to take the game, leading 20-8 with 3:30 remaining. Katherine Plouffe scored on a layup with 1:55 remaining to give Canada the victory to advance to the final.
Series Stop MVP Michelle Plouffe finished as the top scorer (30 points), while also finishing with the Top player Value (35.4). She was second in rebounds with 21. Katherine Plouffe tied Michelle with 21 rebounds, and finished third in key assists (8).