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Canadian women's basketball team opens Pan Am Games with 101-38 win over Venezuela

07/16/2015 07:48 EDT | Updated 07/16/2016 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Canada's women's basketball team roared to a 101-38 rout of Venezuela in its opening match of the Pan American Games on Thursday.

Seven Canadians scored in double figures, with Lizanne Murphy leading the way with 15 points. Shona Thorburn had 14, Kim Gaucher and Kia Nurse added 12 each, Nayo Raincock-Ekwune had 11, and Tamara Tatham and Katherine Plouffe chipped in with 10 apiece.

Canadian coach Lisa Thomaidis rested Natalie Achonwa. The Indiana Fever rookie, who has rebounded from tearing her ACL in the spring of 2014, has been playing with her pro team and arrived in Toronto a couple days later than her Canadian teammates.

Turned out the Canadians didn't need the star centre. Venezuela was never a threat, and when Thorburn drilled a buzzer-beater to end the first quarter, it put the Canadians up 23-8.

The Canadians kept their foot on the gas and took a 48-19 advantage into the dressing room at halftime. Canada shot a perfect 100 per cent from two-point range in the third quarter, and 71 per cent from beyond the arc, and led 77-35 with one quarter to play in front of a crowd at Ryerson's Mattamy Athletic Centre — formerly Maple Leaf Gardens — that included Toronto Mayor John Tory.

The red and white-clad crowd was late to arrive, thanks in large part to the lineup to get in through security, but eventually filled in the majority of the seats.

The Pan Am Games are both a rare chance to play an important tournament at home for Canada's women, and a tune-up for the FIBA Americas Olympic qualifying tournament that begins Aug. 9 in Edmonton. The last time the Canadian women played a significant tournament on home court was the Olympic qualifying tournament in 1995 in Hamilton.

The Canadians made the quarter-finals of the 2012 London Olympics, and then finished fifth at last year's world championships.

Canada plays Argentina on Friday then Cuba on Saturday. The semifinals are Sunday, and the medal games Monday.

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