"Today was a tough loss, but a great experience for our young athletes to be able to compete against three of the top teams in the world," Team Canada head coach Cheryl Jean-Paul said. "Unfortunately, the game didn't go our way, but we are so excited to see the future of this next generation of Canadian women basketball players and so proud of the effort that they gave us throughout the entire week of competition."
In a back-and-forth final quarter, Delaney Gibb drilled a corner three to give Canada a one-point lead with 4:43 remaining. The lead didn’t last long as a put-back layup for France’s Dominique Malonga, followed by a three-pointer from Inès Salahy put France ahead by four with 1:04 remaining.
Canada's Cassandre Prosper, who was selected to the All-Star Five following the tournament, stole the ball and scored on a layup with eight seconds remaining to bring Canada within two, but Canada ran out of time to close the gap as France went on to win the game and capture the bronze medal.
Canada was led by Gibb’s 25-point, five-assist performance, while Prosper finished with 18 points, five rebounds, five assists, five steals and two blocked shots. Summer Bostock added 11 points and Toby Lee Fournier had nine points and seven rebounds in the loss.
"I can remember the very first meeting that we had as a team," Gibb said. "We set our goal as high as it could be right from the start. We were determined to win gold. Although that didn't happen, it's still such an honour to be able to represent Canada as the fourth-best team in the world for our age group."
France was led by Malonga’s game-high 28-point, 17-rebound double-double in the win. Marine Dersus scored 22 points and Ysaline Saulnier added 12 points.
The game was close throughout, despite a blistering start from France, who shot 71 percent in the opening quarter. France held a three-point lead, 23-20 after the first 10 minutes of the game. Canada opened the second quarter on a 7-0 run to go ahead by four, but went on to lose the quarter 22-17 and trailed by eight at the half.
Canada shot 44 percent in the game to France’s 47 percent, but the Canadians struggled at the line, making just 9-of-19 free throw attempts (47 percent). In comparison, France was 16-for-22 from the line.
"I'm super proud of our team today," Gibb said. "We fought hard throughout the entire game and never gave up. Because of our defensive pressure, we were able to push in transition and get lots of easy quick looks which has been one of our targets throughout this tournament. In the end, it sucks to fall short, especially by only two points knowing there were so many little things we could have done to have had a different outcome. On the right side, that just goes to show how much our team can improve for the future."
France scored the first four points of the second half, before Bostock connected on a three-pointer to get Canada on the board. Malonga scored the first nine points of the third for France, extending her team’s lead to 12 points, 54-42, before Gibb hit back-to-back three-pointers to trim the lead in half with 6:49 remaining in the third.
From there, the third quarter was the Gibb show as she scored 17 of her 25 points in the quarter, including 10 straight as she brought Canada back from their seven-point halftime deficit and had the team trailing by just a point, 63-62 heading into the fourth.
Though Canada would run out of time to pull off the victory, like Gibb said, they pushed France until the final buzzer sounded.
Fournier led the tournament in rebounds per game, averaging 11.4 per contest, while Prosper finished fourth in scoring (14.0), seventh in rebounds (9.6), first in steals (4.6), second in blocks (3.0).