GWANGJU, South Korea (Team Canada) – The Canadian women’s basketball team was put to the test in their very first game at the 2015 Summer Universiade, edging Hungary 70-65 in double overtime on Sunday.
Canada got off to a rough start and was struggling from the field, only shooting 27% in the first half of play. Heading into the break, the game was deadlocked at 25-25 with the Canadian narrowly out-rebounding Hungary 31-29.
The team started the second half with a renewed sense of vigor and determination. Although they continued to struggle to find the basket, they pressured the Hungarian defense holding them to 29% shooting percentage from the field.
“At halftime, we asked the girls to respond with a better effort, and the responded in a large way,” said head coach Fabian McKenzie of Cape Breton University. “I am very proud of them. They gutted it out the whole way, through every possession. Even when things weren’t going their way, they stayed positive and battled through. Those were the keys to winning the game.”
The Hungarians gave Canada a scare late in the fourth quarter as they pulled ahead by four with only minutes to go. Ignited by a crucial block from Ruth Hamblin, Canada came alive in the last minute to tie the game for the ninth time and send it into overtime.
Deadlocked again after the first extra frame, Canada took control in the final five minute to earn the 70-65 victory.
Adut Bulgal, who led the team with 24 points and 15 rebounds, admits that they may have underestimated the Hungarians. “After a tough scrimmage yesterday against the USA, we expected to come out with a bang and dominate the game but they caught us off guard,” said the Edmonton, Alb., native. “After the first half, we knew that this was not who we are as a team, and I believe that everyone bought in at that moment and found their inner spark to elevate our competition.”
Quinn Dornstauder also had a double-double for Canada with 11 points and 14 rebounds, while Korissa Williams of Amherstburg, Ont., contributed 10 points and five steals.
Canada will now face the hosts from South Korea Monday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. (4:30 a.m. ET).