Olympics

Tokyo Olympics: Canada's late rally falls short as Serbia holds on for nail-biting win

#Nurse
(NBA Getty Images)

Oh so close.

Canada mounted a spirited second-half comeback against Serbia in its Olympic opener, eventually falling 72-68 to the Rio 2016 bronze medalists.

Sonja Vasić led five players in double figures for Serbia with 16 points, while Yvonne Anderson added 12 and Ana Dabovic 11.

Nirra Fields led Canada with 19 points, with Kia Nurse adding 16 and Shay Colley 12.

Let's jump into some key takeaways at the buzzer:

1. Defence keeps them in it

Canada struggled to knock down shots in the first half, connecting on 9-of-32 from the field and 1-of-10 from the 3-point line as Serbia packed the paint and dared them to launch from deep.

They went into the half trailing by just eight points, thanks largely to their effort on the defensive end as they forced 12 turnovers, recording nine steals in the first half.

Canada finished the game with a whopping 15 steals.

2. Kia Nurse comes alive

After a quiet first half (six points, 2-of-9 FG), Kia Nurse sparked the Canadian's second-half comeback, scoring 10 of her 16 points after the break, adding five rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Her 3-pointer cut the deficit to 38-35 with 6:17 remaining in the third and she found Miranda Ayim for the bucket to tie things up at 40-40, before giving Canada their first lead (42-40) since the first quarter with a laup with two minutes remaining in the period.

Canada turned the game in the third quarter, forcing eight turnovers as they outscored Serbia 17-9 to go into the final frame level at 45-45.

3. Serbian Showtime

Nurse tied things up at 58-58 with 4:24 remaining in the fourth, but Serbia hit right back with a pair of back-breaking 3-pointers, scoring nine of the next 11 points.

Ana Dabovic driled a triple on the next posession, before producing the play of the game 40 seconds later. After Nurse missed a 3-point attempt at one end, Dabovic hauled in the rebound and pushed the ball down the floor, before shoveling the ball over her head with a sublime no-look assist to Aleksandra Crvendakic, who buried a 3-pointer to push Serbia's lead back to six.

Dabovic hit another 3-pointer with 2:53 remaining, capping off a scorching run for Serbia to take control of the game down the stretch.

4. Free throws prove costly

Canada left points on the table down the stretch with some costly missed free throws.

Bridget Carleton missed a pair at the line that would have cut the deficit to two points (1:53) and they had a had a chance to get to within one point with Shaina Pellington at the free throw line with 10 seconds to go.

She made the first to make it 70-68, missing the second as Jelena Brooks launched it down court to who else but Dabovic to lay it in and ice the win.

"A team like this we knew they weren't going to back down," Serbia's Yvonne Anderson said. "But if you give yourself any type of breathing room, then we kind of have to trust our defense to finish off the game. In this game,... It was ugly, but you have to find a way to win."

5. Where the game was decided

Some key stats...

  • Canada shot 24-of-63 (38.1 percent) from the field, 5-of-24 (20.8 percent) from the 3-point line and 15-of-23 (65.2 percent) at the free throw line.
  • Serbia shot 26-of-52 (50 percent) from the feld, 8-of-17 (47.1 percent) from the 3-point line and 12-of-15 (80 percent) at the free throw line.
  • Serbia outrebounded Canada 28-19.
  • Canada recorded 15 steals on the night to Serbia's six and forced 28 turnovers, while only registering 16.

6. Colley exits game

Shooting guard Shay Colley exited the game midway through the third quarter after a collision with Yvonne Anderson.

She recorded 12 points on the night on 2-of-3 shooting from the 3-point line.

7. What's next?

Canada sits at the bottom of Group A following tonight's loss and will look to get on the board when they take on South Korea in their second pool game on Thursday.

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