Canadian women dump Great Britain in Olympic basketball
By CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency
British guard Johannah Leedham (right) tries to catch the ball against Canada during their women's group B match at the London 2012 Olympic Games, July 30, 2012. (MARK RALSTON/Reuters/Pool)
LONDON - For Canada, this was the one that almost got away.
Canada got a scare at the women’s basketball tournament Monday night, but some clutch shooting by Shona Thorburn down the stretch allowed them to pull out a 73-65 victory over 49th-ranked Great Britain.
Thorburn scored six of her team-leading 18 points points down the stretch to allow the Canadians, ranked 11th in the world, to avoid the upset and move to 1-1 in the tournament and keep their hopes of advancing to the medal round alive.
The Brits are 0-2.
The difference in the game was the poise of a player like Thorburn for Canada and the lack of composure for the inexperienced Brits, who cobbled together a women’s program for the Olympics.
After trailing by four at the half the Brits chipped away and took a four point lead with just under eight minutes to go in the game. Their inexperienced showed at that point — they couldn’t rebound or hit a shot — and Thorburn helped Canada take over.
In one key sequence, the Brits missed three offensive rebounds.
“That was a killer right there,” said Great Britain guard Natalie Stafford. “If we get the ball there, that might have been the difference.”
Canada needed this win desperately to try and sneak into the top four teams in their pool. Having France, eighth-ranked in the world, upset the second-ranked Australians in overtime Monday further complicated the picture. Canada plays France Wednesday. The top four teams in each of the six-team pools advance to the medal round.
“We’re used to playing with our backs against the wall,” said Thorburn. “Not that we like to be that way, but it’s our motto, I guess. This is a huge win for us tonight. France has played two outstanding games. We’re going to have to play better than we did tonight.”
Thorburn helped Canada to take control down the stretch.
“I think more as a point guard than as a veteran,” she said. “At the end of the game there, I said, ‘guys calm down. We have lots of time left in this game. We’re going to have many more looks’. I think I was able to bring a little bit of calmness on the floor. You can ask anyone, I’m a very calm person on and off the floor. Tonight I felt I had good looks and I took them.”
“A loss, I know we’re resilient, but that would have been tough,” said Canadian coach Allison McNeill. “This at least keeps us in where we wanted to be which is fighting hard to get to the next round. We had to have that. We’ll enjoy this, but it doesn’t get any easier.”
The Canada-France game will start at 9 a.m.
“We haven’t played a lot at 9 o’clock,” said McNeill, “but I have had them up practising before that before...we’ll be ready.”