LÉON, Mexico (July 8, 2023) - The Canadian Senior Women’s National Team fell to the USA 67-63 in the 2023 FIBA Women’s AmeriCup semifinals in Mexico on Saturday.
In a thriller that went down to the wire, the USA managed to regain control from Canada late in the fourth quarter and hold on for the victory to advance to the gold medal game against Brazil. Canada will now face Puerto Rico in the bronze medal game on Sunday.
Kayla Alexander led all scorers with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Nirra Fields scored 16 points and recorded five steals in the loss. Aaliyah Edwards added 14 points and 11 rebounds and Cassandre Prosper finished with 12 points, six rebounds, two steals and three blocked shots.
Lauren Betts led the USA with 12 points, while Angel Reese had a 10-point, 13-rebound double-double and Rickea Jackson added 11 points.
“First, congratulations to the USA,” Team Canada head coach Víctor Lapeña said. “I think they played very seriously, very consistently. I felt like their energy and their passion to beat us was one of the things they dominated in the game, but on the other hand I’m very proud of my own team. We didn't have a good start, we went back to the locker room at halftime, 10 points down, and we came back in the game.”
After Canada jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead to start the game, the USA went on a 12-0 run to go in front and eventually take a five-point, 22-17 lead after the opening 10 minutes. Canada opened the second quarter with a free throw from Fields and then an offensive rebound and putback from Alexander to get within two points. Charisma Osborne hit a three-pointer to extend the USA advantage to five points and then she connected on another to make it 31-23 USA with 4:35 remaining in the half. A steal and layup in transition from Fields cut the deficit to six, but a pair of free throws for Laila Phelia followed by a layup for Deja Kelly gave the USA a 10-point lead, 38-29, at the half.
Things flipped in the third quarter, where Canada’s defence held the USA to just 15 points.
“I would first say that Canada is unbelievably good,” Team USA head coach Kamie Etheridge said. “They just seem so seasoned in what they do and what they run and I thought we had to have an unbelievable defensive effort to kind of withstand some of the mistakes on the offensive end. It’s a credit to them. They make it incredibly hard to run things and get the ball where you need to get it and to find our mismatches because of their pressure. I just think they pushed us in every way, in every limit. It’s tough that someone has to lose a game like this.”
Fields hit a jumpshot to open second-half scoring. She trimmed the deficit to six points with a three-pointer with six minutes remaining in the third. On the offensive end, Alexander found a cutting Prosper for a layup and then Fields assisted a sprinting Edwards in transition for a layup to make it a four-point game.
Canada continued to push as Hill found Alexander for the layup and a free throw and then Prosper scored inside to make it 45-44 USA with 3:50 remaining in the third.
A long two from Edwards at the end of the shot clock made it a one-point game again, but the USA went into the fourth leading by four, 54-50.
After trimming six points off of their halftime deficit by outsourcing the USA 21-15 in the third, Canada came out firing to start the fourth. A jumper for Alexander got Canada within two to open the quarter. Edwards got a steal and took off, then grabbing her own offensive rebound and putback to tie the game at 56 points with 8:01 remaining.
A three from Fields gave Canada their first lead since the beginning of the game and forced the USA into calling a timeout with 6:03 remaining. Kelly connected on a pair of free throws to trim Canada’s lead to a point, 61-60 with under five minutes to play. The teams traded leads until Jackson scored inside to make it a three-point lead for the USA with 1:59 remaining.
However, Canada was unable to score in the final 1:31 of the game and Osborne made one of two free throws with 10 seconds remaining to seal the victory for the USA.
“I have to say, I would like to check the last possession when Cassandre Prosper blocked and Aaliyah Edwards got the ball,” Lapeña said. “I think the referees don’t have to stop this moment because it was two points to be in the team, in the last minute of the game with an opportunity to win. But it is okay, it is what it is. I would like to say congratulations to the referees, too. They do a great job, too.”
With a bronze medal up for grabs on Sunday in the third-place game against Puerto Rico, Canada was already preparing.
“I hope for the next few hours we forget this game and put our focus on the next game tomorrow because we are playing for the bronze medal and it’s very important for us to finish in this position because I think we deserve it,” he said.
Edwards echoed her coach's sentiment.
“As a team, [we need to focus on] coming out strong,” Edwards said, “Playing 40 minutes. I think we’ve got to hold ourselves to that and compete.”
The bronze medal game between Canada and Puerto Rico is set for Sunday, July 9 at 5:30 p.m. ET/ 2:30 p.m. PT. Fans can catch all of the action live on Sportsnet NOW.