Canada tops Belgium in opener of Olympic women’s basketball qualifier

Canada’s women’s basketball team survived a scare and held on for a 61-56 win over host Belgium on Thursday at an Olympic qualifying tournament.

Hanne Mestdagh’s three-pointer with 2:05 remaining in the fourth quarter cut Canada’s lead to 58-56.

Canada prevented the Belgians from scoring for the remainder of the game, however, and Kayla Alexander hit two free throws with 10 seconds remaining to all but cement the win.

Belgium turned the ball over on its next possession and Kim Mestdagh was forced to foul Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe, who made one of two free throws to give Canada a five-point lead with just seven seconds left.

Kim Mestdagh then missed on a three-point attempt at the buzzer that wouldn’t have been enough even if she sank it.

Kia Nurse had a game-high 19 points for Canada and added two rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Alexander had 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Bridget Carleton and Raincock-Ekunwe had six rebounds apiece.

Emma Meesseman, the 2019 WNBA finals MVP, led Belgium with 14 points and added six rebounds and two steals. Kim Mestdagh had 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists and Hanne Mestdagh had nine points, hitting three of the five three-point attempts.

Canada’s record in qualifying improved to 9-1. They went 5-1 in Puerto Rico, losing only to the United States, then 3-0 in Edmonton.

Canada next faces Sweden on Saturday before taking on Japan on Sunday.

Because Japan has an automatic Olympic berth as host, the Canadians need only to finish ahead of either Belgium or Sweden in the group to be qualify for the Olympics.

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CBC | Sports News