Basketball: Canada upsets unbeaten Australia, get shot at FIBA U19 medal ...

... with Western's Jenny Vaughan and Laval's Elyse Jobin hitting big baskets on a day when scoring was at a premium.

The inclination is always to look for little details when a game goes down like Canada's 50-49 upset of the previously unbeaten Gems at the FIBA U19 World Championship for Women in Thailand. The quarter-final win, which puts the Rich Chambers-coached Canadians into a semi-final vs. the France-U.S. winner and guarantees it a top four finish, had to be recorded for posterity, hopefully for reasons beyond shoving it in the face of the highers-up of Canadian sport whose decisions hastened the demise of the National Elite Development Agency, which helped many of these players develop. Australia, a serious summer-sport nation, is No. 3 in the FIBA women's rankings. Canada is No. 13.

Enough with the political commentary, how about the CIS kids? Vaughan, the point guard who logged a team-high 33 minutes, saved her only two baskets for the right times. She made a tie-breaking three at the first-half buzzer, part of a 16-2 run which spanned the halftime break. With 3:13 left, she put Canada ahead for good with a triple to answer a 9-2 Australian run. Jobin, only five months removed from a broken leg, also contributed a pair of three-balls.

Every little bit helped in a game which had almost 100 missed shots. Notre Dame-bound Natalie Achonwa matched her tender age with a sweet 16 points (Doug Smith noted recently she'll probably be joining the national team in a few weeks). Six-foot-4 Kayla Alexander also had a game-high 15 rebounds. She and Achonwa helped turn Australia into a one-woman show. The tourney's leading scorer, Elizabeth Campage had 26 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, but the rest of the Aussies shot a sickly 8-of-49. (In the Gems' team photo, Campage, a graduate of the Australian Institute of Sport, is in the middle of the back row, a head taller than any of the other players who are standing.)

Greater hoops minds such as Smith at the Toronto Star and Canada Basketball's people can fill in more details. As last night's Tweets should show, it was a white-knuckle ride all the way. Canada never trailed in the final 20 minutes, but never led by more than eight and for a while it seemed like they would rue not opening a bigger lead when Campage was resting in the third quarter with three fouls. Nevertheless, it's cool to know that across this country, there are a few hoopheads who stayed up for it (one of the comments on's game story was from Tim Orpin, a long-time assistant with the Queen's women's team).

It will likely be a Canada-U.S. semi-final at 6:30 a.m. Eastern on Saturday morning.
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  1. Canada's hopes for gold were dashed pretty quickly by the Americans, as they got hammered 82-51 in the semis.
    Canada was never in this game as they trailed 50-18 at the half.
    To their credit...and perhaps because the Americans had their foot off the throttle...Canada had a respectable second half, actually outscoring the US 33-32.
    But the damage was done early on and now there is only hope for a bronze tomorrow.

  2. Obviously, being down 30+ points at the half is disappointing.

    To keep it in perspective, as no doubt we have all have, Canada in its basketball history had only qualified for the U19 women's worlds three times. Our previous best finish was something like eighth. Keep in mind we have only medalled four times at any FIBA event (one of those was at the very first Olympic men's tourney which was played outdoors on a dirt court) and only once since 1990.

    The final is U.S.-Russia, which in women's basketball is to be expected, like when it's Canada-Sweden or Canada-Russia in hockey.

    Canada plays Argentina, which was also an improbable final four team. There's a chance!

  3. 50-18 at the half might not do it justice. The U.S. had a 27-0 run and led 39-8 at one point, as well they should!