Birmingham, England (Aug 1, 2022) - The Canadian Women’s 3x3 team defeated New Zealand 16-11 in the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games semifinals to advance to Monday's championship game against England.
“It feels amazing,” Rosalie Mercille said. “Everyone was just shaking. It's just an amazing experience. I'm super grateful to be here in the first ever 3x3 Commonwealth Games.”
Tara Wallack dominated the glass against New Zealand, grabbing 10 rebounds and scoring a game-high eight points in the win.
It was a huge victory for Canada to advance to the event Finals and it came against the team that dealt them their first loss of the tournament in a 21-11 blowout on Saturday.
“We’re so excited,” Wallack said. “It’s our first Commonwealth tournament and first 3x3 tournament [playing together] so we’re pumped. I think we played all together as a team and we’re getting better and better each game.”
Things were close early on, with both teams playing aggressive defence. A corner two-point shot from Mercille tied the game at five points apiece with 5:55 remaining.
An offensive rebound and putback from Wallack gave Canada a 6-5 lead and then Sarah Te-Biasu ripped the ball away from New Zealand’s Jillian Harmon to get Canada an extra possession. After Wallack scored on a turnaround jumper, Canada led by two. A drive to the bucket for an easy layup from Te-Biasu, and then another score inside from Wallack had Canada ahead by three.
Though New Zealand tried to keep things close, they had no answer for a Canadian offence that was heating up. A layup from Mercille extended Canada’s lead to five, 12-7, with 2:30 remaining in the game.
A two-point shot from New Zealand’s Gabriella Fotu brought New Zealand within two with under two minutes to play, but then Te-Biasu went to work. First she went behind-the-back and drove to the basket, dishing to Wallack who was fouled under the basket. After Wallack made one of two free throws, Canada led 13-10.
Next Te-Biasu went to work on the defensive end, getting a steal and then driving to the rim for back-to-back layups to seal the victory.
It‘s our first time, our first time [playing together] and it’s been a great game,” Te-Biasu said. “It's a fun game and I love it. We connected on and off the court and we showed that on the court. I’m just excited.”
The Canadians shot 12-for-27 from inside the arc in the victory, compared to just 5-for-17 shooting inside for New Zealand.
Prior to their battle against New Zealand, the Canadian Women’s 3x3 team defeated Scotland 17-11 in the quarterfinal behind a six-point, 11-rebound effort from Wallack. Mercille added five points, including 2-of-3 two-point shots, and Te-Biasu added three points and seven rebounds in the win.
While the Canadian Women’s 3x3 team will advance to the gold medal game, the Canadian Men’s 3x3 team fell to England 13-12 in the semifinals after defeating New Zealand 21-18 in the quarterfinals.
The semifinals loss to England was a gruelling defensive battle with neither team wanting to give an inch. In the end, England’s size and swarming defence won out, but things went down to the final buzzer as a two-point attempt from Jordan Jensen-Whyte was just off the mark.
You’ve got to tip your hat to England,” Alex Johnson said. “They prepared for us, they scouted us. They did a great job. You’ve got to give credit where credit is due. It was an incredible game. The crowd was unbelievable.”
Johnson had a game-high nine points in the loss, as Canada shot 6-for-15 from inside the arc and 3-for-13 from two-point range. In comparison, England was 10-for-16 from inside and 0-for-5 from two-point range, but finished 3-for-5 at the free-throw line, while Canada didn’t attempt a free throw.
Canada got off to a slow start in the game, going scoreless until a drive to the basket from Johnson with 7:32 remaining to make it 4-1 England. After a free throw for Myles Hesson extended England’s lead to 7-2 with 5:48 remaining, Canada began to find some offensive rhythm. First there was a two-point shot from Jensen-Whyte, and then Johnson got loose, hitting a jumper and then a two-point shot to bring Canada within two, 9-7, with 4:58 remaining.
As the teams traded blocks inside, Johnson managed to get another layup to go to get Canada within a point. After the teams traded baskets, a shot from Johnson followed by a bucket from Gill tied the game at 12 points apiece with 1:02 remaining.
England’s Orlan Jackman scored on a drive to give England the 13-12 lead with 49 seconds remaining and England’s defence kept Canada from scoring on multiple attempts in the final 30 seconds to secure the victory.
“Shout out to England,” Adam Paige said. “They have four super athletic players who just defended the ball, defended us like crazy. You saw the final score was 13-12. That’s super rare in a 3x3 game. It was just a complete defensive battle. We had a couple of shots to win the game and that's the beauty of the 3x3 game. Had we had the layup, it would have been a tie, had that last shot went in, we would have won the game. The feelings that England has now, we would have had. It’s cut throat and that’s why we play.
Prior to their loss against England, the Canadian Men’s 3x3 team defeated New Zealand 21-18 in the quarterfinals behind an eight-point effort from Gill to overcome a sensational 14-point effort from New Zealand’s Jayden Bezzant who was 8-for-8 from inside the arc.
The first half was close with the teams trading baskets until a drive and score for Johnson, plus a free throw extended Canada’s lead to four, 19-15, with 2:25 remaining. After back-to-back buckets from Bezzant made it a one-point game, Gill drilled a two-point shot to give Canada the 21-18 victory with 1:32 on the clock.
The Canadian Men’s 3x3 team will face Scotland in the bronze medal game on Tuesday, Aug. 2 at 11 a.m. ET, while the Canadian Women’s 3x3 team will take on England in the gold medal game at 4 p.m. ET.