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Canada loses 60-55 in hard fought game against Spain at Olympic Qualifiers

Canada still has plenty of opportunity to make it to Paris with one game left in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Canada Basketball

The Canadian Women’s National Team was back today after winning their opening game against Hungary yesterday. They had a shot at clinching their spot at the Paris Olympics today against Spain.

Spain lost their opening game yesterday against Japan, meaning wins from both Japan and Canada today would clinch their spots int he top three of this group.

As the no.4 team in the world, Spain losing their first game was a little bit of a shock, and it was expected that they would come into this game hungry for a win.

It was a game of runs, lead changes, and close fourth quarter. Exciting hoops all around from two of the best programs in the world!

Game Recap

Spain surely did come out with a fire under them, going up 11-0 in the first quarter over Canada. They forced five turnovers onto Canada in those opening minutes.

After a quick timeout, Canada got on a run of their own, scoring 12 points in a row to get back into it. Their defence improved, and they were able to force some shot clock violations onto Spain.

Ending the quarter was a quick five points from Spain’s Megan Gustafson, to bring Spain up 16-12 after one quarter.

The second quarter saw Spain go up by double digits, Canada missing some field goals. Bridget Carleton was called for three fouls as well, a problem for Canada’s highest scorer from yesterday.

Spain was able to maintain their double digit lead for most of the quarter, and despite Canada bringing it within two possessions, lost it again. Spain went into the half up 36-25 over Canada.

Canada came out of the half re-energized, going on a quick 9-0 run to get back in it. They continued to dominate through the third quarter, as they came back, tied it, and overcame to take the lead.

Spain starting getting called for fouls, and Canada was able to convert at the free throw line. They led 48-45 going into the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter had both teams fighting tooth and nail for this game. Kayla Alexander was absolutely HUGE for Canada in the paint. She has been key for Canada in both games so far this week.

Unfortunately late in the game, Spain got a few lucky buckets to go up five points. Canada had trouble scoring in the final minutes of the game, and couldn’t convert in the end, losing 60-55.

Tournament Implications

With this loss, Canada and Spain are both 1-1 in the tournament. All eyes will be on the Japan-Hungary match later, as a win from Japan would put Hungary in a tough position.

Remember, the top three teams from this tournament advance, so Canada just needs to do better than one other team. If Hungary loses against Japan, their final game would be against Spain, and would be a tough game to win.

As for Canada, their final game will be against Japan on Sunday. A win against Japan would solidify a spot in the top three.

Canada is also leading the point differential over Spain, which will help in the case of a tiebreak situation.

The odds for Canada are still great at this point. They just need to win their next game, and hope Hungary doesn’t win today or Sunday.

Stars of the Game

Canada fought hard in this game despite losing in the end. Kayla Alexander was again HUGE for Canada in the paint and on the glass. She scored 17 points, 14 rebounds, shooting 8-for-10 from the field.

Nirra Fields was huge for Canada today as well, scoring nine points five rebounds. Natalie Achonwa had a huge 11 rebounds for Canada, a clutch performance in the paint from Captain Canada.

Laeticia Amihere was a huge part in Canada’s resiliency today as well, with eight points of her own.

Onto the Next

Unfortunately Canada struggled from the three-point line against Spain, like they did against Hungary, which will be a huge factor in their game against Japan.

Japan isn’t the biggest team when it comes to size in the paint, but they absolutely kill teams in three-point shooting. It’s how they were able to win over Spain to open the tournament.

Canada will have to defend strong on the perimeter, while also taking advantage of the lack of size from Japan in the front court. Luckily with Kayla Alexander and Natalie Achonwa playing in peak form this week, that part should come in handy for the Canadians.

That game will be at 9am EST Sunday morning on Sportsnet.