Canada’s women’s basketball team beat the Dominican Republic on Nov. 17, 2019 in the final game of the FIBA Olympic pre-qualifying tournament. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Canada downs Dominican Republic in women’s basketball Olympic pre-qualifier

EDMONTON — Canada’s women’s basketball team put its depth on display Sunday in a dominant 110-60 victory over the Dominican Republic in the final game of the FIBA Olympic pre-qualifying tournament.

All 12 players hit the scoresheet, including six in double digits, to help the Canadians finish 3-0 at the tournament and advance to the next Olympic qualifier in February.

Sami Hill led the way with 16 points, three rebounds, two assists and three steals, while 20-year-old Shaina Pellington recorded 14 points. Bridget Carleton and Jamie Scott had 13 points each and Ruth Hamblin had 11 points and five rebounds.

“We got to roll our whole lineups through, and it was fun when we got going,” said Canada’s coach Lisa Thomaidis. “It was nice to see different lineup contributing and building chemistry.

“It’s exciting, the ones who have just kind of come on to the scene the last couple years and been part of this quad and will be part of the next one. It’s great to see that pipeline of talent that continues to funnel into this program.”

Cheisy Hernandez led the Dominican Republic with 23 points and Geocelis Reynoso had 13. The Dominicans finished the tournament 0-3.

“That was our goal to qualify for the next qualifier,” said Carleton, who hit three three-pointers. “Going 3-0 is important. With this crowd, playing in Canada, we want to put on a good show.

“It’s not often we get to play in Canada, and we didn’t take it lightly and wanted to play the best we could.”

Canada jumped out to a 13-0 lead and back-to-back offensive rebounds and buckets by Aaliyah Edwards gave Canada a 31-15 lead after 10 minutes.

Pellington scored 10 of her 14 points in the first half to help Canada to a 68-29 lead at the break.

“That’s how I’ve always been. It’s not about points, I want to be an all-around player and I’m going to try and get my players involved and get rebounds offensively and defensively and get steals,” Pellington said. “It’s about being a diverse player, not a one-dimensional player. That’s important to me.

“I’m 20 years old and I’m learning a lot. Being on the court, I’m being exposed to things I would never be in other circumstances, and I’m just grateful for this opportunity.”

Canada outscored the Dominican Republic 50-28 in the paint and scored 37 points off turnovers. Canada’s bench provided 59 points in the win.

Canada’s defence was also solid, forcing 29 turnovers and 20 steals.

“I think we can be even more aggressive,” said Thomaidis. “We have the athletes to back it up and we can be more disruptive and opportunistic when it arises. That’s something we’ve always held our hat on, and we can be proud of that today.

“We weren’t complacent at all. We had some things to improve upon last night and it was a good motivator for us. We showed what we’re capable of today.”

Thomaidis was pleased with how Canada responded in the tournament.

“It’s all about gaining momentum and improving upon the day before,” said Thomaidis. “It’s nice to see us improve from what we did in Puerto Rico, and now we have to be better in February for the next tournament comes around.”

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