CANADA FINISHES 3-0 AT FIBA WOMEN’S PRE-OLYMPIC QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT

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The Canadian Senior Women’s National Team defeated Dominican Republic 110-60 on Sunday to move to 3-0 in the FIBA Women’s Olympic Pre-Qualifying Americas Tournament in Edmonton.

“It’s all about game momentum and improving upon where we were the day before,” head coach Lisa Thomaidis said. “It’s nice that we were able to have the time to spend here and continue to improve upon what we did in Puerto Rico, and now continue improve upon this one and be that much better in February.”

Canada never trailed in the victory, opening the game on a 13-0 run and leading start to finish. Six players reached double figures for Team Canada with Sami Hill scoring 16 points, Shaina Pellington scoring 14 points, Jamie Scott and Bridget Carleton each adding 13 points and Natalie Achonwa and Ruth Hamblin adding 11 points apiece. Dominican Republic was led by Cheisy Hernandez who scored a game-high 23 points in the loss.

“That’s why it’s so fun to be part of this team where one through 12 can come in and be a force,” Carleton said. “Everyone can score, everyone can dominate on the defensive end, so that’s what’s fun.”

Canada shot 55 percent in the victory, including 41 percent from beyond the arc, while holding Dominican Republic to 38 percent shooting, and 25 percent from deep. The team’s defensive effort never wavered and the team recorded 20 steals in the win as every player who entered the game scored.

After a slow first half in Saturday’s victory against Puerto Rico, Team Canada had a role reversal on Sunday, jumping out to a 13-0 lead to start the game on Sunday. When a layup from Sugeiry Monsac brought Dominican Republic within six at the 5:22 mark of the first quarter, Canada responded by closing on a 16-6 run to extend their lead to 31-15 after the opening 10 minutes.“We had some things to improve upon from last night so that was a good motivator coming in,” Thomaidis said. “I thought it showed in the way we played.”

Canada shot 63 percent in the opening quarter, including a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line while holding Dominican Republic to 31 percent shooting from the floor. “We definitely meant business today,” Hill said. “We wanted to stay disciplined both defensively and offensively and get very specific looks so we can keep looking to improve. Dominican Republic played really good defence the whole game so that helped us a lot on offence.”

Things continued to roll for the Canadians in the second quarter, and the team extended its lead to 20 points on a three-point play from Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe with 7:17 remaining in the half. With four three-pointers in the second half of the second quarter, Canada was able to stretch its lead to 63-29 at the halftime break.

It was a dominant half all around for Canada as the team shot 65 percent from the floor and converted 14-of-15 attempts from the line. The Canadians recorded 16 assists to Dominican Republic’s eight in the half while winning the rebound battle 23-10 as they held Dominican Republic to 33 percent shooing in the half. Pellington led Canada with 10 points in the half.

After a slow start coming out of the halftime break, a pair of back-to-back three-pointers from Carleton and Hill extended Canada’s lead to 76-33 midway through the quarter. Canada continued pushing and won the third quarter 30-13 to take a 93-42 lead into the fourth.

The fourth quarter start was reminiscent of the first quarter, with Canada opening on a 13-0 run to extend their lead to 106-42 with 6:02 remaining in the game. Canada went on to victory from there, making it an undefeated tournament for the team.

“Obviously that was our goal, to qualify for the next qualifier,” Carleton said. “Going 3-0 was important, especially with this crowd in Canada, we wanted to put on a good show for our fans. It’s not very often we get the chance to play in Canada and we didn’t take that lightly and we wanted to be the best we could.”