NEIVA, Colombia-– The Senior Women’s National Team got off to a strong start as they beat Mexico 72-45 in their opening game of the 2011 FIBA Americas Championship for Women.
“I’m really happy with our first half performance, we were outstanding defensively,” said head coach Allison McNeill. “I think the start of the second half, we lost our concentration a little bit and certainly Mexico came back and played very well in the second half.”
“I think it was a good way to start the tournament,” said team captain, Teresa Gabriel (Mission, BC). “We came out strong and executed fairly well. Defensively, we were very good, holding Mexico to nine points in the first half. We shot the ball well and we all brought energy, which is something we’ve sometimes been lacking. It was a good first win.”
Offensively, Canada shot 41% from the floor, including eight three-pointers. Kalisha Keane (Ajax, ON) had a game-high 15 points, 10 of which came in the fourth quarter. Krista Phillips (Saskatoon, SK) added 11 points; while Courtnay Pilypaitis (Ottawa, ON) chipped in with 10.
Keane and Pilypaitis’ performances coming off the bench were not only important for the victory over Mexico, but also moving forward in the tournament.
“It was a great game to get everybody some minutes,” McNeill continued. “We got some good performances off the bench and we were able to rest a lot of players. It’s a long tournament and we want to make sure that people aren’t worn out in the first few games.”
Defensively, Canada held Mexico to 31% shooting from the floor. Gabriele had a team-high six rebounds. Keane, Pilypaitis and Chelsea Aubry (Kitchener, ON) each had 5.
Canada got off to a hot start scoring the first 12 points of the game. Phillips led the way, scoring six points in the first five minutes; while Pilypaitis had five in the last five minutes of the quarter, en route to helping Canada jump out to a 19-4 lead after the opening 10 minutes.
The scoring did not slow down in the second quarter for Canada as they continued to pour it on. Kim Smith (Mission, BC), Lizanne Murphy (Beaconsfield, QC) and Keane led the attack, giving Canada a 35-9 halftime lead.
Into the second half, Canada continued to maintain a comfortable lead, despite Mexico out-scoring Canada 16-12 in the third quarter. Phillips continued to lead the way offensively with five points in the quarter. Nearing the end of the third, Mexico cut the deficit to less than 20 points, but with 24 seconds left in the quarter, Aubry hit a three-pointer to restore a healthy lead heading into the final frame.
The scoring momentum continued into the fourth quarter led by Murphy and Keane, who combined for 15 of Canada’s 25 points. Despite Mexico scoring 20 points in the final frame, Canada held on to the victory.
Canada’s win over Mexico will be broadcasted on TSN2 tomorrow morning at 11:30 am ET (8:30 am PT). Check local listings for details.
Canada will play Brazil tomorrow afternoon at 4:45 pm local time (5:45 pm ET). Canada’s game versus Brazil can also be seen on TSN2 tomorrow evening at 11:00 pm ET (8:00 pm PT).