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CAN - Defense doesn't rest as NT gains split with Brits
EDINBURGH (FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament/Olympics) - Every practice and every game that Canada have in the build-up to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) for Women is vital for coach Allison McNeill and she tries to get her team into the best possible shape to solid run in Ankara.
There was much to be learned from their two-game friendly series against Great Britain over the weekend.
After being harassed into committing 23 turnovers in a 70-57 defeat in Saturday's opener, Canada returned to the court 24 hours later, played with a greater sense of urgency and record a 63-50 win.
The opening game set-back in Edinburgh, Scotland, where both clashes were held, left McNeill looking for a better performance offensively.
"Our execution lacked as Great Britain took away some of the things we wanted to run," McNeill said.
"Great Britain played very well; they were very aggressive getting to the foul line 31 times in the game compared to our 12 times."
While the Canadians still had their problems in the turnover department with 22 in the second meeting, at least the defense was far more disruptive because the Brits turned it over 24 times.
"Our defensive effort was outstanding," McNeill said.
"And we got contributions from everybody on the floor.
"This series with Great Britain was a great experience as we prepare for the trip to the Olympic qualifier."
What helped the Canadians on Sunday was the presence of Courtnay Pilypaitis.
After sitting out the first game, Pilypaitis played 15 minutes and made all five of her shots from the floor.
That included a perfect three-of-three effort from behind the arc on her way to a team-high 13 points.
"We played well as a team and we had contributions from everyone," Pilypaitis said.
"My teammates found me when I was open and I was able to make some shots."
The Canadians did not blow the Brits out as it seemed they might when opening up a 28-11 lead midway through the second quarter.
Half-way through the third quarter and the hosts had trimmed the deficit to 35-31.
Canada prevailed, though, and next will take on Croatia, another of the OQT-bound sides and one they could end up facing in the Quarter-Finals.
The Canadians are in Group D with France and Mali and Croatia are in Group D with Korea and Mozambique.