Canada’s women’s basketball team lost their first game at the Rio Games on Friday.
Once again Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe, whose mother lives in Penticton, started the game for Canada. (Read more on Raincock-Ekunwe here)
The U.S. took the lead in the opening quarter and never looked back, defeating Canada 81-51. The loss puts Canada (who are ranked ninth in the world) at 3-1, their best start ever at the Olympics. The U.S. (who are ranked first in the world) are now undefeated in Rio with a 4-0 record. With the win, the U.S. clinched first place in Group B.
Canada turned the ball over nine times and only hit one basket out of 10 from the field in the second quarter. The team’s leading scorer, Kia Nurse, didn’t record her first field goal until late in the third quarter. Raincock-Ekunwe scored six points and gathered eight rebounds in the loss.
Eighty-one points equals the fewest Team USA has scored in its last 13 Olympic games, dating back to 2008, and is more than 30 less what the Americans averaged through their first three matches in Rio.
Prior to playing the U.S., Canada gave up just 64.3 points per game, the fewest in Group B. The U.S. was second at 67.7 points against. Raincock-Ekunwe was third best in rebounds for the Canadians heading into the match against the U.S. and led the team on the boards on Friday.
Canada secured its place in the next round with a victory over Senegal on Wednesday. They still have one more game in their Group B schedule against Spain (who are ranked third in the world) on Sunday.
“They keep this very well in perspective,” Canadian head coach Lisa Thomaidis said of her players. “They know what this is all about and our eyes are firmly focused on a very tough Spanish team. That’s a game that has some meaningfulness to it for us and we’ll be ready for them.”
The quarter-finals will feature crossover play between Group A and Group B teams, with the first place team meeting fourth place and third playing second. Quarter-final play begins on Tuesday, Aug. 16.