A second-half spoiler took away what was a solid start as Canada fell 82-59 to Finland in their third game of the 2019 Summer Universiade in Italy at Pala Barbuto.
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Finland’s Sara Bejedi was outstanding through the second half to erase any hopes of Canada earning a win in this tournament. Canada gave up 48 points in that second half, forcing the team to move on from pool-play without a victory.
“I think what it really comes down to is adjusting our defence to whatever the other team is doing differently,” said Linnaea Harper, captain of the Canadian side. “Finland started hitting their outside shots in the second half and we didn’t adjust as well as we should have. So, moving forward we need to really make changes quickly defensively. ”
“Now, we keep our heads high. We are proud to wear the Canada jersey so we know what we have to do moving forward – work together, share the ball, shoot the ball.”
The first quarter was dominated by Finland’s Roosa Lehtoranta, whose 8-0 run midway through left Canada trailing 20-12. Ryerson’s Jama Bin-Edward was once again a spark off the Canadian bench, providing three layups to spring Canada back in to scoring mode. Canada had three straight buckets and finished the quarter trailing 23-20 to Finland.
Jayda Veinot’s back-to-back threes were an immediate response to a second-quarter opening three from Finland. Canada went on to out-score Finland 17-11 while dominating the glass 21-11. Canada was able to find scores from nine different scorers in the first half, while Sarah-Jane Marois and Harper led, each with seven points. Lehtoranta drained a circus three from just inside half line at the halftime buzzer to finish with 11 points as Canada held on to a 37-34 lead at the break.
Canada started the third well with a quick steal by Kyla Shand, who fed Marois and then Megan Ahlstrom for an easy layup and a 39-34 lead. Bejedi got Finland back in the game with a three-pointer followed by a steal and easy lay-up to tie the game at 39. Shand was a force under the Canadian hoop, denying second-chance opportunities for Finland and while Bejedi was able to craft her way through traffic, Marois kept Canada’s offence in check. The U SPORTS MVP hit a pivotal three that put Canada back in the lead, up 42-41 mid-way through the quarter. Three late triples lifted Finland up 54-48 entering the final quarter.
Bejedi turned it up in the final quarter, setting up more outside shots for Finland to drain, while Canada struggled to hold their composure as the tides turned. Finland found their shooting form to finish the game with 17 three-pointers and, ultimately, an 82-59 victory.
“I think it’s a combination of not having played at this level and having the international experience I believe you need,” said Canadian head coach Michele Belanger. “It’s just not being disciplined and not having that grit you need when you need it. When things aren’t going well, you need to dig deeper to make it happen or at least get some stops and we struggled. They shot the ball and we didn’t.
“If we can build on our first half and use that and build on it and try and repair some of the errors that happened in the fourth quarter by holding the ball, trying to attack in a crowd, not using our team mates, not communicating on screens and just little things that can help you a lot down the stretch.”
Canada won the rebounding battle 40-28 but could not find any offensive success. Finland’s Bejedi finished with 23 points, while Helmi Tulonen had 16. For Canada, Laval’s Marois had 12 points and McMaster’s Harper had 10. The Canadians were held to 36 per cent from the field, relative to Finland’s 40.
Canada (0-3) will now prepare for their quarterfinal in the 9-16th place bracket set for Sunday, July 7 at 11:30 a.m. EDT / 8:30 a.m. PDT (5:30 p.m. local).