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Canadian Trail: Women's basketball team wins 1st ever Pan Am gold

Canada's women's basketball team made history Monday night, and salvaged the country's Pan Am gold-medal streak in the process.

Canada's gold-medal streak remains intact

Canadian players celebrate an historic basketball victory in the gold-medal final against the Americans. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Canada's women's basketball team made history Monday night, and salvaged the country's gold-medal streak in the process.

Hamilton's Kia Nurse was dominant with 33 points, five rebounds and three assists as Canada defeated the United States 81-73 in the women's basketball final.

The first ever Pan Am Games basketball gold for Canada gave the host nation a shot in the arm. The Canadians were in danger of finishing a day's competition without a gold for the first time at the Games.

Nurse and her teammates made sure that didn't happen with a gutty effort. Canada outrebounded the U.S. 39-35 and forced the Americans into making 18 turnovers.

Natalie Achonwa of Guelph, Ont., added 13 points in her first tournament with Canada since tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee last year.

Canada won six medals total on Monday, giving the hosts 55 gold and 148 overall.

The United States leads with 65 gold medals and 169 overall, while Brazil is third in both categories with 30 and 102.

Bezzoubenko rebounds for silver

Earlier, Canada won a silver and bronze medal in rhythmic gymnastics.

Patricia Bezzoubenko of Thornhill, Ont., won silver medal in the clubs competition. Canada later added a bronze in the clubs/hoops group competition.

Bezzoubenko's score of 15.933 was just behind American Laura Zeng, who led the eight-athlete field at the Toronto Coliseum with 16.167 points. American Jasmine Kerber took bronze with a score of 15.833.

Bezzoubenko, who won five gold medals for Canada at last year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, just missed the podium in the ribbon competition with a fourth-place finish. She won a bronze medal in the all-around competition on Saturday.

"I hope I can learn from these competitions and go forward and do my best," Bezzoubenko said.

The Canadian clubs/hoop group took bronze in their event with 13.709 points. U.S. took gold (14.983) and Brazil won silver (14.692).

Canadians fight to podium

In fencing, Montreal's Joseph Polossifakis advanced to the final in men's sabre before falling 15-9 to Eli Dershwitz of the United States.

"Mentally, I got distracted by a couple of calls from the referee that I didn't agree with," Polossifakis said. "It's not an excuse, but I wasn't able to keep focus."

Gabriella Page of Blainville, Que., added a bronze when she fell 15-13 to American Dagmara Wozniak in the women's sabre.

Quebec City native Maxime Potvin earned Canada's first taekwondo medal of the Games, taking silver in the men's 68-kilogram final. Potvin lost 6-3 to Mexico's Saul Gutierrez in the final.

"I thought I would be a little bit stronger this fight but he made me tired during the fight because I was always kicking because he has the same range as me," Potvin said.

"It was a little harder for me, usually I don't fight people my height."

The Canadian boxing team also set itself up for potential medals. Mandy Bujold of Kitchener, Ont., (48-51 kg), Ariane Fortin of Saint-Nicolas, Que., (69-75 kg), and Montreal's Caroline Veyre (57-60 kg) all won their quarter-final bouts in women's competition on Monday. Kenny Lally of Prince George, B.C., (56 kg) advanced to the semifinals on the men's side.

Teams work through prelims 

The Canadian women's field hockey team defeated Uruguay 2-0 in their quarter-final match. The women will play the defending champion United States on Wednesday.

Vancouver's Abigail Raye and Karli Johansen of North Vancouver, B.C., had the goals for Canada.

The men's soccer team fell 2-0 to Peru and did not advance to the next round after finishing 0-2-1 in the preliminary round.

Canada's men's and women's table tennis teams both advanced to the semifinals in team competition. The women beat Chile 3-1 in Monday's quarter-finals, while the men downed Argentina 3-0.

Canada improved to 2-0 in women's softball with a 5-0 win over Cuba. Erika Polidori of Brantford, Ont., had three hits and crossed the plate three times for Canada.

The Canadians made a big splash in their first ever Pan Am women's baseball game, routing Cuba 13-1. Bradi Wall of Guelph, Ont., led Canada with four runs batted in, including two in an eight-run sixth inning for the Canadians.

Women's baseball is making its Pan Am debut this year.


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