July 30, 2012

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame junior women’s basketball forward Natalie Achonwa (Guelph, Ontario/St. Mary’s Catholic) played a pivotal role in a historic win for Team Canada, while senior epeeist Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas/Earl Warren) participated in the individual epee competition to highlight Monday’s action for Fighting Irish athletes at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England.

Achonwa collected four points (2-3 FG), four rebounds, three assists and a steal in 19 minutes as Canada earned its first Olympic win in 12 years with a 73-65 victory over Great Britain in a preliminary round game Monday evening at the Olympic Basketball Arena in London.

Achonwa played a critical role in the final five minutes, scoring all four of her points while grabbing a pair of offensive rebounds and dishing out an assist to help Canada end the game on a 16-4 run. It’s the first Olympic victory for Canada since Sept, 24, 2000, in Sydney, Australia, when the Maple Leafs edged Brazil, 61-60, on the final day of the preliminary round.

Canada is now 1-1 in this year’s Olympic tournament, having dropped a 58-53 decision to the world’s second-ranked team, Russia in its first contest at the London Games back on July 28. Achonwa had three points, four rebounds and three assists for Canada in the game, which saw Russia fashion an 18-3 run over the final six minutes to take the win.

Canada returns to the hardwood at 4 a.m. (ET) Thursday against France at the Olympic Basketball Arena in London. France is 2-0 in preliminary-round action following a 74-70 overtime win over reigning Olympic silver medalist Australia earlier on Monday. Thursday’s game between Canada and France can be seen live on the NBC Olympic Basketball Channel, on-line at nbcolympics.com or ctvolympics.ca, or through the NBC Live Extra app available at nbcolympics.com.

Hurley was eliminated in the round of 32 at the women’s individual epee competition of this year’s Olympics. After earning a first-round bye, Hurley dropped a 15-12 decision to Laura Flessel-Colovic of France in her round-of-32 bout.

The current top-ranked American epeeist, Hurley opened an early 5-3 lead against Flessel-Colovic, but the Frenchwoman answered with four of the next six touches to tie the bout at 7-7 at the end of the first period. Hurley then erased a two-touch deficit in the second period to square the contest at 11-all. However, Flessel-Colovic closed the bout on a 4-1 run to eliminate Hurley from the competition.

Hurley is back in action in the women’s team epee event beginning at 4 a.m. (ET) Saturday with preliminary round competition. The medal bouts are scheduled to take place starting at 1 p.m. (ET) Saturday, with coverage available throughout the day at nbcolympics.com.

Notre Dame women’s soccer alums Candace Chapman (’05) and Melissa Tancredi (’04) will lead Canada against Sweden at 9:30 a.m. (ET) from Newcastle, England, on the final day of group play in the Olympic tournament (live broadcast on MSNBC, the NBC Olympic Soccer Channel and nbcolympics.com). Canada has three points (1-1-0) thus far, following a 2-1 loss to reigning FIFA World Cup champion Japan on July 25, and a 3-0 win over South Africa on July 28. Tancredi scored a goal in each match, while Chapman was injured early in the contest against Japan, and did not play against South Africa (her status is day-to-day and availability for the Sweden match is uncertain).

Also on Tuesday, Notre Dame women’s soccer alum and two-time Olympic gold medalist Shannon Boxx (’99) and the United States will take on North Korea at 12:15 p.m. (ET) in a group-stage match from legendary Old Trafford in Manchester, England (home of the famed English club, Manchester United), with the contest to air live on the NBC Sports Network and nbcolympics.com. The United States has the maximum six points (2-0-0) thus far by virtue of wins over France (4-2 on July 25) and Colombia (3-0 on July 28), although Boxx has been sidelined for all but the first few minutes of the France match after suffering a hamstring injury in that contest. Like Chapman, her status remains day-to-day, although U.S. Soccer already has announced she will not play Tuesday against North Korea.

For more information on Notre Dame participants at the 2012 London Olympics, visit the special Notre Dame Olympics microsite (und.com/olympics), the official London Olympics web site (london2012.com) or the official NBC Olympics web site (nbcolympics.com).

— ND —