A three-point barrage from Canada consigned England to a 54-80 loss on the opening night of the women’s competition at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Townsville.
With scores level at 15-15 at quarter-time, the Canadians went on a long-range scoring spree in the second and third quarters as they connected on eight of 15 attempts to bust the game wide open. In contrast, England could have been forgiven for believing that there was a lid on their basket for large sections of the game as they made just four of 20 attempts from beyond the arc.
There were no such problems for Georgia Jones, however, as the 28-year-old finished with a team-high 11 points including 40% from the three-point line.
“Their defence was tough,” Jones said. “They knew what we were going to do and we weren’t able to get into our rhythm I don’t think. We struggled. They just played a really good game tonight. It was hard for us to get into the flow on offence and the same on defence because they run the floor.”
With the top-two teams in Pool A advancing directly through to the semi-finals on the Gold Coast, England will be hoping to bounce back at 2:30am Sunday morning UK time when they face Mozambique before a final round blockbuster against Australia.
During the early stages of today’s game, England looked impressive as Hannah Shaw (seven points and four rebounds) imposed herself on the contest. Having drawn an early found, the Team Northumbria centre opened England’s scoring at the tournament from the free-throw line before securing a put-back to level the scores at 3-3.
Rachael Vanderwal (seven points, five rebounds and three assists) looked dangerous on the perimeter as she set about wheeling and dealing, while Jones opened her account with a gorgeous hesitation move in the shadows of quarter-time.
With both teams battling hard, Canada was able to break the game open near half-time as their snipers let loose from the three-point line. Shay Colley top-scored for the Canadians with 14 points including 4/6 from deep, while Daneesha Provo (14 points) and Alex Kiss-Rusk (10 points) also registered double figures.
“I think they deserved to win so I want to congratulate Canada,” Head Coach Jose Maria Buceta said. “This is only the first game of the competition so we will continue. We have to go game-by-game in the competition – it’s only the first game – but I’m sure we will improve. I think the fighting was good, the spirit was good and the girls tried to do their best all the time, so I’m proud of them despite the result.”
Trailing by nine points at the half, Buceta would have been hoping for a strong response to start the third quarter but Canada continued to get out and run the lanes. A 27-9 third-quarter effectively ended the contest as the Canadians opened up a 25-point advantage.
Despite the margin, England continued to fight as Siobhan Prior entered the game and coolly pulled the trigger from deep. The Canadians refused to drop off as they secured an impressive opening round win, with Provo confirming the match was closer than the score line may reflect.
"It's a lot more fundamentally sound and their offence is hard and they play defence a little bit longer,” Provo said. “Their guards are really big and the number seven (Rachael Vanderwal) is a really good player. I feel like it is more of a pushy style of pace than I am used to and it made the defence a little bit harder for us."