(KAZAN, RUSSIA) – Facing unbeaten Taiwan, the Universiade silver medallist from 2011, Canada’s women’s basketball team appeared out of the game early before mounting an inspired comeback attempt in the fourth quarter. Solid execution down the stretch brought the Canadians within striking distance but time ran out, leaving them on the losing end of a 72-67 score.
Despite their second loss in three pool matches, the Canucks will move through as the second-ranked squad in Group C and meet Australia in the tournament quarter-finals Friday at 6 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET).
Behind by 19 points at halftime, the red and white saw that deficit balloon to 28 midway through the third quarter thanks to Taiwan’s star, Ping-Jen Huang. Huang led all scorers in the game with 20 points, but scored only three after the Canadian turning point.
“We dug a huge hole, and we had to rally and battle and fight,” said head coach Fabian McKenzie. “They responded in the highest fashion. It came down to shooting free throws, and in the second half we played extremely hard.”
The rallying Canucks poured in 47 second half points, mostly from Dartmouth, N.S., native Rachelle Coward (Charleston Southern University) and the Windsor duo of Miah-Marie Langlois and Korissa Williams (University of Windsor). Coward led the team with 13 points, and the Lancers pair added 12 apiece.
“There’s not one player here that we are really relying on, this is a total team effort all the time,” said McKenzie. “Tonight it was Kris Young (UBC) who was an emotional sparkplug, trying to push us from the opening tip, but every night it has been somebody else stepping up that way.”
Taiwan totalled 17 points from the free throw line, good on 71 per cent of their 24 attempts, while Canada earned just 11 trips to the line and only converted seven.
However, Canada did win the battle of the boards – an important achievement heading into the next round of play.
Looking ahead to Friday’s tilt with Australia, McKenzie explained, “We’re going to try to put together the best scouting report we can. We’ve scrimmaged them a little bit and had some success in certain areas. We will just try to capitalize on what we can and hopefully come out on top in the end.”