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Canada basketball
Holly MacKenzie

Canada falls to USA 83-43 in semifinals of FIBA Women's World Cup 2022, will play for Bronze


SYDNEY, Australia (Sept. 30, 2022) - The Canadian Senior Women’s National Team fell to the USA 83-43 on Friday morning in the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022 semifinals in Sydney, Australia. Canada will now play in the third-place game later on Friday night.

The USA was led by a 17-point performance from Breanna Stewart, 14 points from Kelsey Plum and a 15-point, 12-rebound double-double from A’ja Wilson.

Laeticia Amihere had eight points and Kia Nurse scored seven points for Canada while Phillipina Kyei recorded three blocks in just 13 minutes of play as Canada ended a Women’s World Cup game with no player having reached double figures for only the 4th time and the first since 2014.

“Congratulations to USA,” Team Canada head coach Víctor Lapeña said. “They played amazing from the beginning of the game. When you play against USA in the semifinal, it’s very clear you are perfect or they are going to break the game in 10, 15 minutes. I am very happy to have this kind of experience for my players, especially my young players, like Phillipina. Phillipina is 18 years old, so to give them this experience in the World Cup to play against against the USA, to have the feeling on the court, what [it] means to play against these amazing players, to get experience for the future [is great]."

Canada shot just 22 percent in the loss, while giving up 48 percent shooting to USA. The USA outrebounded Canada 53-37, though Canada held a 14-10 edge on the offensive glass.

“We obviously came out to fight,” Kyei said. “Unfortunately we lost, but we gave it our all and we’re hoping to play in the next game for a medal.”

The Canadians helped force the USA into 17 turnovers, but they were unable to overcome a slow start that saw the USA start the game on a 15-0 run, their largest of the game. Canada didn’t score their first points of the game until the 5:09 mark of the opening quarter.

“Canada has had a terrific tournament,” Team USA head coach Cheryl Reeve said. “I told our group they’re a win against the hosts away from being the No. 1 seed on that side [of the bracket].”

Amihere drove to the basket to score Canada’s first points to make it 15-2 with 5:09 remaining in the opening quarter, but Stewart came right back with a layup on the other end. After a steal from Natalie Achonwa led to Nurse getting fouled on a drive to the basket, Nurse went to the line to shoot a pair of free throws. She made both, making it 19-4 with 3:19 remaining.

With Achonwa in foul trouble after picking up her third foul in the opening quarter, Kyei checked into the game earlier than usual and used her energy to try to give Canada a boost as they trailed by 20, 27-7, following the opening 10 minutes of play.

Shaking off the slow start, Canada had a much better performance in the second quarter as the USA won the quarter by just four points, 18-14. A pull-up jumper for Carleton opened the quarter, but Shakira Austin blocked Kyei on one end and then sprinted down the court to score on the other, extending the lead back to 20.

When the ball wound up in Shay Colley’s hands after Carleton slipped, Colley threw up a three-point heave at the end of the shot clock and made it. Canada’s defence came alive in the second quarter as Kyei blocked back-to-back attempts from Austin. Amihere hit a three-pointer and then Carleton blocked a layup attempt from Brionna Jones inside as Kyei got her own offensive rebound and putback, but Wilson went on a mini run of her own, scoring on a drive inside, blocking Amihere and then grabbing a rebound and scoring, pushing Canada to call a timeout trailing 36-17 with 5:02 remaining in the half.

The USA led 45-19 with under a minute remaining in the half. After a miss from Kayla Alexander, Achonwa grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled on a putback attempt with four seconds remaining in the half. Achonwa made both free throws and Canada went into the half trailing 45-21.

Canada shot just 18 percent in the first half, while giving up 60 percent shooting to the USA as they built that 23-point halftime advantage.

Carleton opened the third by driving to the hoop for a layup. What began as a low-scoring quarter for both teams ended up being a runaway for the USA as Sabrina Ionescu drilled a deep three to cap a 15-3 run to close the third and put the USA up 64-29 heading into the fourth.

In the final frame, Canada began the quarter with five reserves starting Amihere, Sami Hill, Mael Gilles, Aislinn Konig and Taya Hanson. They kept pace with the USA in the quarter, forcing turnovers with their energy and attacking inside whenever possible. With the starters resting in advance of the third-place game that will be played later on Friday night, the reserves finished the game strong, fighting until the final buzzer sounded.

“It is very, very important to be in these games for us,” Lapeña said. “Before [we came] here we didn't talk [about], we didn't expect to be in the semifinal. But on the other hand, we didn't think that we are not able to do it. You know, it's very important for our team to play these games, to play the game today, to play tomorrow.”

Lapeña spoke at length about the importance of getting this kind of game experience for his team to help prepare his players for what’s to come.

“I'm very happy with the group because all the games were difficult for us,” he said. “Serbia, France, Japan, very difficult and this is experience and experience and experience [for us, against] very different styles. For our team, looking for the future, looking for Paris, looking for Los Angeles, looking for the next six, eight years is very, very important. Today was the semifinal. Okay, against the USA is super difficult, but tomorrow we are playing for a medal. They are going to feel what it means to play for a medal. How difficult it is to win a medal. How difficult is it to compete against Australia or China. And this is very important. And finally, if we win it’s going to be amazing, but nice enough for the future because it's like we opened this door to work to always be in the semifinal and fighting for the podium.”

Up next, Canada will face either China or host-team Australia in the bronze-medal game on Friday at 11 p.m. ET.