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Canadian women fail to medal at 1971 Worlds and Pan Am

The Canadian women’s national team failed to medal at the 1971 FIBA Women’s World Championships and the Pan Am Games.

Mary coutts canadian women fail to medal at 1971 worlds and pan am games
Mary coutts canadian women fail to medal at 1971 worlds and pan am games

The 1971 FIBA Women’s World Championship for Women was held on May 15-29 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

USSR would go on to easily claim gold with Uliana Semjonova, perhaps the most dominant women in the history of basketball, dropping in 35 points in her final game.

Canada would also fall to the seven-foot-two, 278-pound Semjonova in their second game of the tournament.

It was May 16, 1971 that Canada fell to the USSR 94-44.

Semjonova is one of six Russians to score in double figures…dropping in a game high 16 points against Canada in limited court time.

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No Canadian manages to score in double figures.

“We played reasonably well against the Russians,” said Canadian head coach Darlene Currie in an interview.”

“There is no defence for her,” said Currie of Semjonova. “If they shoot and miss, she automatically grabs the rebound and puts it in. So they have to get a basket every time they go down the floor.”

Canadian captain Mary Coutts, who at 6 feet tall is the tallest Canuck, echoes the dominance of Semjonova.

“Anything going anywhere near the basket, she simply bats it down…like she’s spiking volleyball.

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“All I could do was jump up and down in front of her and wave my arms.

Commenting on Semjonova’s defence:” Every time I went to move, the mountain moved with me. Her arms stretched from here to here.”

Canada had opened these

Held May 15-29, 1971 in Sao Paulo, Brazil…Canada had opened the tournament May 15, 1971 with a five point loss to Cuba.

May 15, 1971

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Canada 50 Cuba 59  (0-1)

Canada opens the tournament with a nine point loss to the high-flying Cubans.

“Believe it or not…they had this girl who was 5-foot-4, and she could virtually dunk the basketball,” said Coutts in an interview.” Believe it. It was almost unbelievable…she could jump that high.”

Coutts was the high scorer for Canada with 15 points.

Cuba had three players in double figures, led by Rojas with 18.

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May 16, 1971

Canada 44 USSR 94 (0-2)

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Game recap in second paragraph

May 17, 1971

Canada 60 Argentina 53 (1-2)

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Down 27-22 at the half, Canada came back to win, with Angie Radanovich and Coutts scoring 12 and 11 points respectively. Canada was 8-for-18 from the free throw line and Argentina 15-for-38.

May 21, 1971

Canada 102 Madagascar 52  (2-2)

Up 49-35 at the half, Canada exploded for 53 points in the second half while allowing Madagascar to respond with only 17 points.

Canada had six players in double figures, with Betty Ross tops with 16 points.

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Canada shot 22-for-36 from the free throw line. A. Riama replied with 20 points in the loss.

May 23, 1971

Canada 76 Ecuador 69 (3-2)

Canada led the majority of the game, with Coutts leading a balanced attack with 12 points.

May 24, 1971

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Canada 67 Argentina 61 (4-2)

Canada had a five point lead at half-time 31-26. Coutts and Radanovich each had 14 points

Canada shot 13-18 from the free throw line.

May 26, 1971

Canada 48 Australia 55 (4-3)

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After a day’s rest, Canada fell to Australia.

Radanovich has 15 points, while Coutts was held to seven points.

“We had beaten them earlier in overtime, and we didn’t play well. We had many chances to win it. Everybody felt bad,” remarked Currie.

May 27

Canada 60 USA 80 (4-4)

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Despite balanced scoring – Margaret Jean Curry 14 Coutts 13 Radanovich 11 Joyce Douthwright 15 – Canada lost by 20 to the USA.

Linda Camble had 20 points for USA

“Against the USA we had an early lead, but they hit a 51% percentage on their field goal attempts, and we couldn’t match that,” said Coutts.

Head coach Currie blamed the 10th place finish due to lack of practice together.

“We put a team together in a camp for a week, play a few exhibition and think we can go in and compete.”

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Coutts also pinpointed team passing as a fault: “The Russians and the other Europeans teams used many more passes than we did. They would pass 10 or 15 times and very quickly before taking a shot. We might have four or five.” 

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1971 Pan Am Games

Up next for the Canadian women was the Pan American Games, held two months later from July 31 to August 12, 1971 in Cali, Colombia.

They would place fifth. Here were the scores.

July 31, 1971

Canada 60 – Columbia 39 (1-0)

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August 2, 1971

Canada 61 – Mexico 64 (1-1)

August 4, 1971

Canada 69 Brazil 63 (2-1)

August 5, 1971

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Canada 50 USA 54 (2-2)

August 9, 1971 (3-2)

Canada 71 – Ecuador 41

August 10, 1971 (3-3)

Canada 46 Cuba 57

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Canadian Roster for FIBA World Championships

Marg Curry (Swift Current, Sask.)
Heather Witzel (Courtenay, B.C.)
Joyce Douthwright (Gunningsville, N.B.)
Vale Savege (Cobourg, Ont.)
Angie Radanovich (Nanaimo, B.C.)
Joanne Sargent (McBride, B.C.)
Betty Ross (Vancouver, B.C.)
Lesley Hamerton (Winnipeg, Man.)
Kathy Williams (Vancouver, B.C.)
Pat Tatham (Hamilton, Ont.)
Pauline Gensick (Vancouver, B.C.)
Mary Coutts (Victoria, B.C.)
Darlene Currie – coach

Andrea Borys – manager

For the Pan American Games the roster would remain the same with only Vale Savege not on the roster and replaced by Wendy Grant (Campbell River, B.C.)



  1. Kenneth Jameson

    January 27, 2024 at 11:35 AM

    Great article! Thanks. Next can you research on some Wilt Chamberlain’s stuff?

  2. Kenneth Jameson

    January 27, 2024 at 1:53 PM

    Next, can you make a post about Wilt Chamberlain’s personality off and on the court?

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