Bridget Carleton scored a game-high 18 points while Natalie Achonwa had 14 points and 10 rebounds, as the two members of the Minnesota Lynx helped Canada (1-1) rebound from a disappointing defeat at the hands of Serbia to take care of South Korea (0-2) in comfortable fashion, 74-53.
While Carleton, like the Canadian team as a whole, still struggled from behind the arc, she thrived in 2-point range, converting five of her six attempts. Achonwa’s team-high 10 boards paced the Canadians to a 54-32 rebounding advantage. Her seven offensive rebounds, out of a total of 22 Canadian o-boards, helped Canada cash in on second-chance points.
After the game, Achonwa noted, “That was the key to today, the emphasis on how much bigger and stronger we were and we executed that.” Canada’s third active WNBA player, Kia Nurse, chipped in nine points, four rebounds and a steal in a game-high 34 minutes.
Determined defense was the most important element of the Canadian victory. Leading by five points at the half, Canada held South Korea to 26 second-half points. In contrast, the Canadians dropped 25 points in the fourth quarter alone, allowing them to put the game well out of reach.
“It starts with our defense, our tenacious aggressiveness on and off the ball, flying around and just playing together. That’s what translates to offensive transition and easier looks on the offensive end,” Carleton emphasized after the win.
Ji Su Park led South Korea with a double-double of 15 points and 11 boards, continuing a run of strong Olympic performances by members of the Las Vegas Aces. Kang Leeseul and Danbi Kim both added 11 points.
Canada meets Spain on Sunday at 8 a.m. ET in a contest that is crucial for the Canadians. For a chance to win Group A, they will need a convincing victory over the Spanish. The teams last met at the 2018 FIBA World Cup, when Spain triumphed 68-53.
In order to avoid a winless Olympic experience, South Korea will have to knock off Serbia. The teams face off on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.