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Canada Basketball – SWNT improves to 12-0 all-time on its home court at the Saville Community Sports CEntre

EDMONTON, ALBERTA (July 11, 2016) – There’s no place like home for Canada Basketball’s Senior Women’s National Team, which defeated China 71-59 to sweep Edmonton Grads International Classic at the Saville Community Sports Centre on Monday.

Miranda Ayim, Nirra Fields, Kim Gaucher, Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe and Shona Thorburn started for Canada. For team roster click here.

Canada won all three games in the 2016 EGIC, defeating China 82-63 in Game 1 of the EGIC on Saturday and 74-62 on Sunday in Game 2, and are now 12-0 all-time at the Saville Community Sports Centre, the official home of the SWNT.

“It’s really fun playing here,” said Edmonton native Katherine Plouffe. “We love how can we have competitions here, now that we’ve got some experience under our belt.”

Added twin sister Michelle Plouffe, “Being from Edmonton, it’s awesome, because we love to see our friends and family and it’s cool to see the support that the team is getting and to see the community welcome our team as Edmonton’s team.”

Fields set the tone for Canada with an energetic performance, scoring a game-high 16 points and notching a pair of assists.

“Nirra’s athletic ability and her speed and her ability to knock down open shots and create stuff for others is just tremendous,” said head coach Lisa Thomaidis. “She’s come a long way in the last few years and we’re really happy with her progress.”

Ayim and Tamara Tatham and each had 10 points for Canada, while Raincock-Ekunwe led all players with eight rebounds. China’s top scorers were Zhi-fang Zhao and Xiao-jia Chen with 10 points apiece. For full boxscore click here.

Canada shot 45 per cent from the field while limiting their opponents to just 35 per cent accuracy. The SWNT dominated inside for a second straight game, holding a 40-16 edge on points in the paint.

“We scored a lot in the paint and it’s great for us to get that many paint touches and attempts at the rim, that’s what we want, and our players are really buying into that and not taking any bad shots,” Thomaidis said. “I think our shot quality has been quite good and it’s been reflected in our field-goal percentage.”

Canada got off to its best start of the EGIC, racing out to a 12-5 advantage early, but Xiao-jia Chen hit a three-pointer at the first quarter buzzer to cut Canada’s lead to 16-12.

China continued to climb back into the game and pulled within one point of Canada, 22-21, midway through the second quarter before Fields took over, first draining with a three-pointer and then hitting a running bank shot to put the SWNT back up by six. She wasn’t done there, scoring from in tight as time expired to send Canada into the locker room with a 35-28 lead.

Much like the first, Canada started the second half strong, jumping ahead to its first double-digit lead of the night, 41-31 early in the third. China battled back with a late surge, and Canada led 47-39 heading into the final quarter.

After Canada pushed its lead back above 10 in the opening moments of the fourth, China pulled to within 60-53 with less than four minutes to play, before Fields again stepped up, drilling a three from the corner to halt any hopes of a China comeback. Fittingly, Fields scored the last bucket of the game, dashing inside and laying the ball in off a beautiful pass from Ayim.

The SWNT will reconvene in Toronto on July 22 for its next phase of training, before competing in the 2016 USA Basketball Showcase July 27-31. Team Canada opens play at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio against China on Aug. 6. Follow @CanBBall for updates.

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