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Canada clinches their spot in Olympic Qualifiers beating Colombia 70-53

Colombia hung on until the end, but strong performances by Bridget Carleton and Kayla Alexnder helped push Canada to a win.

Japan v Canada Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images

The Canadian Senior Women’s team played their second of three games tonight as they fight to make it to the Olympic Qualifier tournaments in February 2024. The SWNT is in Colombia this weekend playing three other teams from the Americas for two spots in February’s tournament.

Canada kicked off their weekend with a dominant display last night over Venezuela, winning 81-39. Tonight, they faced the home team Colombia hoping to go 2-0 in the tournament.

Something that makes Canada so competitive in this tournament in their size, strength, and depth. Last night’s win displayed that as their defence was strong enough to hold Venezuela to under 40 points and their ability to be aggressive and fast on offence helped them rack up the points.

The home team was coming into this game after losing a close match to Venezuela, and a loss would knock them out of contention to move on. This seemed to motivate the Colombians as they came out to an early lead in the game.

Canada started the same five players as last night — Shay Colley, Kia Nurse, Bridget Carelton, Natalie Achonwa, and Kayla Alexander. A slow offensive start for Canada saw Colombia lead by as many as six points in the first quarter, but a push kicked off by Bridget Carleton helped them not only bridge the gap but exceed Colombia. By the end of the first, Canada was up 17-13 and ended the first on an 11-0 run.

Laeticia Amihere continued her dominance from last night’s game early on, scoring three points, one steal, one block, and one assist early into the game.

The continued that dominance into the second quarter, and at one point were up 11 points over Colombia, yet Colombia wasn’t just going to let them run away with the game. The home team fought back to end the first half down only by three, 34-31.

The third quarter was huge for Kayla Alexander whose steady and strong play in the post helped Canada gain their largest lead of the game. Colombia hung around but Canada was able to get up by 13 points throughout the third. By the end of the third quarter, Kayla Alexander had 16 points, nine rebounds, one assist, three steals and two blocks. Canada led 52-39 with ten minutes of play to go!

Yet, Colombia was NOT going away. They kept cutting the lead to single digits through the first half of the final quarter. Canada continued to struggle from three point range, but Kayla Alexander was the difference maker — she finished the game with a double double.

Canada was able to hold off the Colombians, winning the game and clinching their spot in February’s qualifying tournaments. The final score was 70-53.

Their game Sunday against Puerto Rico will determine whether Canada finishes first or second in the tournament, which effects where they will head in February for the qualifiers. If Canada tops the tournament this weekend, they head to Hungary (the favourable draw), and if they finish second place, they will play in China (a little bit more difficult of a draw).

Kayla Alexander finished the game with 20 points, 14 rebounds, three steals, two blocks and one assist. Bridget Carleton had 21 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, and one steal. Both were huge for Canada’s success today — Carleton helped launch the offence during times of struggle while Alexander was steady in the post for Canada, making sure they didn’t lose the battle on the glass.

This was just another display of how strong this Canadian team is getting — despite a slower shooting night there were able to stay strong and hold off a formidable opponent. A little different from their more balanced effort last night but still a strong performance from Canada.

Their third and final game of this tournament will be on Sunday at 4:00pm against Puerto Rico.