TORONTO — The members of the Canadian U23 Women’s National Team are golden. With a 78-60 victory over France in the GLOBL Jam championship game, the home team took the top spot in the inaugural international basketball showcase at Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto on Sunday afternoon.
Shy Day-Wilson led Canada with 19 points and nine assists, while Aaliyah Edwards added 13 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block as Canada took care of business to get the gold and finish a perfect 5-0 in the event
Merissah Russell had 11 points, Shaina Pellington scored 10 and Yvonne Ejim finished with nine points and eight rebounds for Canada.
Aaliyah Edwards turned 20 on Saturday as the team advanced to the final. When asked what her birthday wish she said she wanted to win the gold. Less than 24 hours later, her birthday wish came true.
“It feels great, it feels great,” Edwards said. “The mind frame was win. That was our goal from the start of the tournament and we came here and finished it.
“We can finally celebrate the b-day tonight for sure.”
Edwards was named tournament MVP for her stellar play throughout.
“She’s been a real anchor for us on both ends of the floor,” Team Canada head coach Carly Clarke said. “She made some timely baskets again today and often had the job of keying in on one of the opponent’s top players and defending them. She cleaned up the boards, defended and her effort never wavers. Pretty special performance.”
It was a special experience for all of the teams and players involved in the first-time event, but especially so for the Canadians who got to not only play at home, but win there as well, in front of friends and family. For some, it meant getting to play in Canada for the first time in a handful of years.
“The energy,” Edwards said of her favourite part of the event. “Winning at home, the first inaugural tournament of GLOBL Jam, and to actually say that we won it the first time is amazing. All the friends and family that came out to support, and watching online and on TV? Amazing. We love the love.”
France was led by 11 points apiece from Marine Fauthoux and Tima Pouye in the loss.
With the gold medal on the line, Canada went to work early, opening the game with a 7-0 lead and adding to it with each quarter. After Calgary’s Phillipina Kyei closed the quarter with five quick points, Canada led by three, 19-16, after the opening 10 minutes.
Canada opened the second quarter like they started the first, scoring the first seven points of quarter as a three-pointer from Day-Wilson and then a three-point play from Pellington expanded Canada’s lead to 10.
France didn’t score in the second quarter until a three-pointer from De Freitas with 6:10 remaining in the half.
Day-Wilson found Edwards with a gorgeous entry pass and Edwards scored with ease. A pull-up jumper from Sarah Te-Biasu made it 30-19 Canada and then Taya Hanson found Ejim for a layup to extend the lead to 13 points, 32-19 with 3:57 remaining in the half. After a drive and score from Pellington to close the half, Canada took a 37-25 lead into the break.
France opened the second-half scoring with a layup from Kendra Chery, but Day-Wilson hit a three to extend the lead to 13 points.
Canada shot 47 per cent in the game as well as 47 per cent from deep, making 8-of-17 attempts from long range. In comparison, France shot 33 per cent from the floor and 23 per cent from three, making 4-of-17 attempts.
After four straight points for France to get within single digits, Canada started to connect from long-range. Edwards found Russell for her second three-pointer of the game to keep Canada in front 43-31 with 7:12 remaining in the third, then Day-Wilson added a step-back three-pointer of her own. Next up was Hanson drilling a three to extend Canada’s advantage to 16 points. Ejim didn’t hit a three-pointer but she completed a three-point play to give Canada a 17-point advantage. Pouye scored at the buzzer for France, but trailed 58-42 heading into the final frame.
Day-Wilson opened the fourth with a pull-up jumper to extend Canada’s lead back to 17. On Canada’s next possession, she continued to push the pace and found Russell for another three, her third of the game, this one making it a 20-point game. Canada scored the first seven points of the quarter, pushing the lead above 20 and going on to victory easily from there.
“We’re really excited,” Clarke said of the young talent that was on display for Canada all week. “We’ve been knocking on the door of winning a medal at a World Championship or at the Olympic games. That’s our goal to stand on the podium. Hopefully this experience shed some light and developed some players that will be a part of our program for a long time.”
The United States will take on Brazil in the men’s final at 7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT on Sportsnet ONE and SN NOW.