GWANGJU, South Korea (Team Canada) – The Canadian women’s basketball team is going to their first ever Universiade final after a 70-60 victory over Russia in the semi-finals on Saturday.
With tonight’s win, Canada has guaranteed themselves the team’s highest finish at the Universiade in program history. Heading into the games, Canada’s best result was a pair of bronze medals in 1979 (Mexico City) and in 1991 (Sheffield, England).
Canada will now battle USA for the gold medal on Monday night at 6:00 p.m. (5:00 a.m. ET), live on FISU TV (www.livefisu.tv). The Americans obtained their ticket for the final by defeating Japan in double overtime Saturday.
Canada opened the game strong and was relentless through the entire forty minutes with efficient passing and strong play under the boards.
Midway through the opening quarter, Canada went on a 10-0 run to take a 14-3 lead with just three minutes remaining in the frame, and held an 18-9 lead at the end of the first ten minutes.
The red and white then went on another 10-0 run to open the second quarter, holding the Russians off the scoreboard for the first three-and-a-half minutes. Russia had their own 10-2 run late in the second but it was too late as Canada held a firm grip on the lead and never let go.
“Our defense got us into the game initially. We did a great job holding them to tough shots and we really contested everything,” said center Ruth Hamblin, who recorded three fouls in the first four minutes of play. “In the second half we grounded it out and valued every possession. I thought it was a great team win with everyone contributing and making big plays. It was so much fun.”
Dakota Whyte of Ajax, Ont. led Canada with a game high 16 points and 5 rebounds. Hamblin contributed 14 points, 7 rebounds while Amherstburg, Ont. native Korissa Williams had 11 points, 7 rebounds.
Canada finished with a 46.0 field goal percentage and went 14-for-17 from the charity stripe (82%). Russia shot only 36 per cent from the floor on the night, but struggled even more from the free throw line, making only 8 of twenty attempts (40%).
“This means so much to our program,” commented head coach Fabian McKenzie of Cape Breton University. “In the stages of development for Canada Basketball we are trying to teach the athletes how to win medals and that is what these ladies are doing. This is an important piece in their development and I am so proud of them today.”