Canada wins bronze in U19 World Cup

UDINE, Italy — Laeticia Amihere had 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead Canada to a 67-60 victory over Japan for the bronze medal at the FIBA under-19 women’s World Cup on Sunday.

It was the Canadian women’s first medal at the U19 level. Canada’s senior women’s team finished third twice at world championships (1979 and 1986), while the U19 men’s team earned its first gold medal at the World Cup in Egypt earlier this month.

“We are so happy to be leaving here with the bronze medal,” said Canada’s captain Alyssa Jerome. ”It was a tough game as Japan put up a really great battle. We all wanted to leave here with a medal, so we worked really hard to do that.”

Hailey Brown added 12 points and Hanna Hall chipped in with 10 for the fourth-ranked Canadians, who were knocked out of contention for gold with a semifinal loss to Russia on Saturday. Japan lost its semi to the defending champion United States.

“Incredibly proud of this team and this accomplishment,” said coach Carly Clarke. “Following a tough (Saturday) last night, it’s sometimes hard to bounce back within a day. But our girls showed tremendous resilience, pride and determination to show up ready to go today.”

Himawari Akaho led third-ranked Japan with 13 points and 10 boards. Haruki Takahara also had 13 points and Kiho Miyashita added 12.

Canada led 14-10 after one quarter thanks to a buzzer-beating three pointer from Hall, and took a 33-27 lead into halftime on another buzzer-beating three, this one from Jerome.

Japan scored 18 points in the third, which ended with another three-pointer at the buzzer from Kendra Van Leeuwen to give Canada a 50-45 lead heading into the final frame.

Canada shot 43.1 per cent from the field and sank 6-of-17 from three-point range. The Canadians outrebounded Japan 42-38.

“We did a tremendous job defending Japan and that really fed into our offensive game,” Clarke said. “We got back to moving and sharing the ball, playing inside outside. It truly was a complete team effort to bring home the bronze medal.

“I’m extremely proud of this accomplishment for these athletes. They have worked so hard, put so much time and effort and they 100 per cent earned it.”

Canada’s previous best showing at the U19 women’s tournament was a fourth-place finish in 2009.

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