The Canadian women dropped their second game in as many days at the 2019 Summer Universiade in Italy, falling 85-51 to Australia at Pala del Mauro. The two losses relegate Canada to play in the consolation bracket, which will follow their last preliminary game against Finland on Friday .
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“We are building up and getting better and better as we go,” said Canadian forward Hannah Brown, whose 13 points led the way for Canada. “I’m proud offensively – we weren’t executing in spots, but toward the second half and near the end of the game we were able to produce what we wanted and do the things we wanted to do.”
Canada opened the first quarter with two triples from Cape Breton’s Brown – but Australia’s 9-0 run, combined with Canada’s shooting percentage of just 27, served up a 22-11 Australia lead heading in to the second quarter. The Australian stature, that included six-foot-five Lauren Scherf and six-foot-four Eziyoda Magbegor, was an added challenge for the Canadians for both their finish and follow up.
Australia had another daggering run in the second quarter, this time 10-0, to take a 37-14 lead. Australian forward Keely Froling knocked back two uncontested threes before Canada finally found an answer by means of a Jama Bin-Edward three. The Ryerson forward gave her side seven straight points in a quarter that saw Australia out-score Canada 20-10. Brown led Canada with nine points and five rebounds but Canada’s lackluster performance offensively left them trailing 42-21 at the break.
Australia out-scored Canada 21-15 in the third quarter as Laval’s Sara-Jane Marois was able to spark some more fluid ball movement after being held to just one basket in the first half. Canada struggled under the boards being out-rebounded 37-29 with one quarter to go, while Australia was also 45 per cent from distance compared to Canada's 18. Australia extended its lead to 63-36 heading into the final stretch.
It was much of the same in the fourth quarter as Australia out-scored Canada 22-15 en route to an 85-51 victory and security for Australia into the quarter-finals. They will join China as representatives of Group D.
Canada’s offence appeared in glimmers but could not out-match the defensive efforts of Australia, which out-rebounded Canada 52-40 and shot 44-per cent from beyond the arc. Canada was 22 per cent from distance and 28 per cent from the field. Brown added nine rebounds to her team-high 13 points, while Marois and Bin-Edward each put up 11 points.
“Shooting wasn’t there, but it was also our inexperience,” said Canadian head coach Michèle Bélanger. “They (Australia) are a very experienced team, and you can tell. At times, we didn’t share the ball well offensively, and defensively our plan was to stop their post play from getting too many easy touches inside. We did that well, but that gave them the three-point game and they started to shoot the three. We had to adjust.
“Offensively is where we really suffered. We couldn’t really get any flow, we were rushed on shots, and I have to give kudos to Australia for taking us out of our rhythm.”
Australia’s Froling had 20 points, while three others were in double digits including Scherf and Magbegor, each with 16.
Canada (0-2) are relegated to the 9-16th place bracket, while Australia and China, each with two wins, move on out of Group D. Canada will play their third and final preliminary game against Finland (0-2) with tip-off set for 11:30 a.m. EDT / 8:30 a.m. PDT (5:30 p.m. local) Friday from Palabarbuto in Naples, Italy.
“We need to focus on what we do well,” said Brown on the team’s next match up with Finland. “We played them a few days ago so we have an idea of who they are and what their game is, so for us it’s adapting to that kind of change, work together, and focus on what we can do individually and as a team.”