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Canada basketball
Holly MacKenzie

Canada falls to Australia 75-72 in preliminaries at FIBA Women's World Cup 2022


SYDNEY, Australia (Sept. 26, 2022) - The Canadian Senior Women’s National Team dropped a 75-72 decision to host-team Australia on Monday at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022 in Sydney, Australia.

In a thriller that saw each team trade dominant quarters, Canada was led by a 17-point performance from Nirra Fields and 16 points from Bridget Carleton. Laeticia Amihere added three blocked shots in the loss. Australia’s Ezi Magbegor had 16 points and five blocked shots in the win while Sami Whitcomb scored 15 points and Steph Talbot finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, narrowly missing out on a triple-double.

“I thought we played hard,” Fields said. “We had them in the beginning with our defence and they just played really great team defence towards the end and we made a couple of mistakes that they really just punished us for but overall it was a really good game. We really fought hard.”

Canada shot 38 percent from the floor, but was 11-for-22 from beyond the arc as five different players connected from long range. In comparison, Australia shot 43 percent in the game, while also connecting on 11 three pointers, four of them coming from Whitcomb.

“I’m very proud of my players because we competed all the time and this is what I ask of them,” Team Canada head coach Víctor LaPenña said. “We have to compete every minute, to compete in all games in this tournament and unfortunately today it wasn’t possible to win. We dominated the game in two periods and Australia dominated the game in two periods. Finally, we lost by three points. We were very close and this is very important for our future because today we got experience in this kind of atmosphere. I’m sure in the future when we have these kinds of games or moments, we will be better and solve some situations that today we didn’t resolve in a smart way.”

After Canada fell behind by five points to start the game, the team quickly bounced back to take control and go in front by nine, 23-14 after the opening 10 minutes of play. Things flipped in the second quarter, when Canada went scoreless for the final 3:44 of the half as Australia reeled off a 19-0 run to win the quarter 24-10, and take a five-point lead, 38-33, into the halftime break.

The third was all Canada as they outscored Australia 24-13 behind a 12-point quarter from Carleton to take a six-point lead, 57-51 into the fourth. Carleton opened the second-half scoring with a layup to bring Canada within three. A three for Whitcomb extended Australia’s lead back to five until Carleton came back with a three of her own before getting fouled and hitting a pair of free throws to move Canada back in front midway through the quarter.

Free throws from Australia’s Kristy Wallace tied the game at 51 points with 1:06 remaining in the third. A three-point play for Fields put Canada back in front by three and then Nurse connected on a three to put Canada up by six to close the quarter.

Following the back-and-forth pattern of the first three quarters, the fourth was a role reversal of the third as Australia outscored Canada 24-15 en route to victory. A layup and three-pointer from Whitcomb tied the game at 60 points as Canada called timeout with 6:58 remaining. Out of the timeout, Nurse drilled a three-pointer to put Canada back up by three, but after a free throw from Australia’s Marianna Tolo and then a layup for Talbot, the score was tied again at 63 with 5:26 remaining.

Free throws for Magbegor put Australia in front by two. A layup for Talbot made it a four-point advantage for Australia. Amihere brought Canada back within two, but another three from Whitcomb extended Australia’s lead back to five. On the defensive end, Amihere had back-to-back blocks before Canada called timeout with 2:42 remaining to talk things over.

A pair of free throws from Nurse brought Canada within a point with 2:10 remaining, but Magbegor blocked another shot inside and Canada couldn’t stop Talbot from scoring to put Australia ahead by four with 45 seconds remaining. After Magbegor blocked a layup attempt from Achonwa and Talbot made a pair of free throws, Australia led by six with 19 seconds remaining.

With the win out of reach, a three-pointer from Fields with 1.1 seconds remaining brought Canada within three to close as Australia collected the victory and delivered Canada its first loss of the tournament.

Up next, the Canadians will face Mali on Tuesday at 2 a.m. ET on the final day of group play.