SYDNEY, Australia (Sept. 27, 2022) - The Canadian Senior Women’s National Team defeated Mali 88-65 on Tuesday to finish group play 4-1 at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022 in Sydney, Australia. With the victory, Canada is guaranteed a top-2 finish in Group B heading into the quarterfinals.
“First of all I would like to say congratulations to Mali [for being] here,” Team Canada head coach Víctor LaPeńa said. “ I was talking with their coach and what they are doing here, trying to compete every game is amazing. So I will say congratulations to them and I hope we can play again in the future.”
Canada was led by a monster 27-point performance from Bridget Carleton in the victory, as well as a 19-point, 14-rebound double-double from Kayla Alexander who also added four assists and three blocked shots. Aislinn Konig and Kia Nurse added 11 points apiece in the win.
Mali was led by Sika Kone’s 10-point, 10-rebound double-double in the loss.
Carleton shot 9-for-13 from the floor, including 7-for-8 from beyond the arc, adding eight rebounds, three assists and a block in 25 minutes of play.
“I love to see the confidence that everyone else now gets to see [in] Bridget Carleton,” Team Canada captain Natalie Achonwa said. “She's always been explosive. She's always been a shooter and a scorer, but she's really embraced this moment and our need for her to fill that role. And I'm glad to see that the world gets to see as well, who I've known that Bridget Carleton has been all this time.”
Canada never trailed in the game after Carleton opened the scoring with back-to-back three-pointers to help Canada get off to a solid start. The Canadians led by 17 after the opening quarter and by 24 at the half. They maintained their lead through the third, going into the final quarter still leading by 24. Though Mali played hard until the final buzzer sounded, they were unable to slow Canada’s offence to cut into their lead.
“I was really happy with how we approached the game,” Achonwa said. “These are the kinds of games that can get you caught up. Fifth game in six days. The mentality we took coming in to respect our opponents and to come up with our best effort was shown today.”
Canada shot 44 percent from the floor compared to Mali’s 34 percent shooting. The Canadians connected on 11-of-27 three-point field goals, compared to just five makes in 18 attempts for Mali. Every player on Canada’s roster logged time in the win.
“I'm just so happy for our bench,” Achonwa said. “A lot of our team has their first World Cup, and for them to be able to actually get minutes on the floor in a game? They cheer us on every day. They make us better in practice, and for them to be able to have the opportunity to show that in a World Cup on a world stage, I'm just really happy for them.”
Carleton started the second quarter like she started the first, again hitting a pair of three-pointers for Canada’s first six points of the quarter to extend the lead to 21. A pull-up jumper from Nirra Fields made it 50-26 Canada. After a corner three-pointer from Kia Nurse extended Canada's advantage to 53-27 with 1:05 remaining, Taya Hanson and Mael Gilles checked into the game to make their Senior Women’s National Team debut shortly before Canada went into the half with a 24-point lead, 53-29.
Like the first two quarters, Carleton opened second-half scoring for Canada with her fifth three-pointer of the game. When Mali put together a 6-0 run in the quarter, Carleton snapped it with her sixth three. She was getting it done on the defensive end as well, blocking a layup attempt from Djeneba N’Diaye, before Kyei fouled Sika Kone on a layup attempt. Kone made both free throws, but Mali was unable to make up any ground in the third and went into the fourth trailing by 24.
Alexander opened the fourth with a block on one end and a pair of free throws on the other, extending Canada’s lead to 26 with 9:25 remaining. Though Mali continued pushing, Canada’s lead remained. Kyei scored her first points on a layup with 2:47 remaining to put Canada ahead 88-61 as Canada picked up its fourth win in the group phase.
The quarterfinals draw will take place following the last game played on Tuesday. Canada will play on Thursday, time and opponent TBD.