Having trailed 10-21 at the end of the first quarter, Russia fell back by as many as 18 points at one point in the second quarter. But a 20-6 run brought the deficit down to eight at the end of the first half.
Spain managed to stay ahead, but at 41-49 American Becky Hammon, who took up Russian nationality before the Olympics, took over.
The CSKA Moscow guard scored five points in a 9-0 run to take Russia into the lead for the first time at 50-49 with 2:43 left in the frame.
With the game still knotted at 51-51, Hammon hit a three-pointer for a 54-51 advantage and following Anna Montanana’s three-ball immediately after, a struggling Maria Stepanova replied for Russia down low and put them in front for good.
Hammon scored 17 points for the game, and most importantly 10 of them in the second half.
“If you would have seen at the pre-tournament (Diamond Ball for Women) two weeks ago, we would have folded so we have made progress,” Hammon said.
“It feels very good. Minor miracle, I hope there are more miracles in store.”
Amaya Valdemoro scored 16 points for Spain but only two in the second half.
“It’s the same old story with Russia,” Valdemoro said.
“I’m tired of losing against Russia.”
Sylvie Fowles’ all-round showing was the highlight of Team USA’s win tonight.
The Chicago Sky center led the game in scoring as well rebounds, accounting for 26 points and 14 boards, as the defending Olympic gold medalists ran their Asian rivals roughshod in the second quarter.
USA led only 25-21 at the end of the first ten minutes, but raced to a 16-4 run early in the second quarter and the Americans built on it to lead 51-30 when the teams went into the changing rooms.
Fowles had scored 12 points and collected eight rebounds by then.
“I think I was in a good mood and I was feeling very well,” said Fowles. “Once I got started, I didn’t see it stopping.
“It’s a gold medal round, you want to go out there and give it your best, I wanted to make a statement and come out with a bang.”
An 11-4 run in the second quarter only increased USA’s stranglehold on the game and they wrapped up with a mammoth 44-point difference.
“We are very happy that we put on a good game,” USA coach Anne Donvan said.
“We did a great job defensively. Our depth is the key to our success. We are excited about reaching the semi-finals.”
Korea coach Jung Duk Hwa complimented his opponents for their game.
“In terms of physical conditioning, size, they are superior to us. We learned a lot from our opponents,” he said.
Australia’s feelings at the end of their quarter-final win were ambivalent.
On the one hand, the Opals had made the last four grade for the fifth time in six Olympics. But on a more unfortunate note, forward Taylor suffered a grievous injury –
that leaves her doubtful for the semi-finals – in the early moments of the third quarter.
Taylor, the MVP of the tournament, when Australia won the FIBA World Championship two years ago, rolled her right ankle while attempting to split a pair of Czech defenders and played no further part in the game. The Ekaterinburg player had her right ankle in a tub of ice most of the second half.
Taylor had scored eight points as the Opals raced to a 38-17 at half-time. A lead that reflected the Aussies dominance on the game overall. And a lead that the Opals only consolidated for the rest of the game.
Lauren Jackson led the Aussie scoring with had 17 points and 12 rebounds. Belinda Snell contributed 15 and nine boards.
Ivana Vecerova’s words after the game summed up the Czechs’ plight.
“I think to lose by 33 points for the way we played, it was a very good result,” the Gambrinus Brno player said.
But the point of discussion among most Aussies after the game revolved obviously around Taylor.
“Penny’s situation clouds us a little bit,” Australia coach Jan Stirling said. “An ankle injury like that depends on the next 24 hours. She will have ice for every two hours.”
“She’s one of our core players, and our vice-captain,” said Snell underlining Taylor’s importance to this squad. “She’s our leader.”
Kristi Harrower sounded more hopeful, saying “I don’t think we’re worried. I hurt my ankle two years ago in the semi-final against Brazil (at the FIBA World Championship) and came out and played two days later in the final.”
China will hope that doesn’t happen.
China made the semi-finals after a gap of three Olympics – they finished ninth in 1996 and 2004, while failing to gain entry in 2000 – thanks to a powerful showing by Miao Lijie.
The Haerbin forward returned an impressive scoring record – 10/14 on the floor, sinking three of her five three-pointer attempts and 5/6 from the stripe – to finish with a game-high 28 points.
Miao scored the first five points of the game – first capitalizing on a Nataliya Trafimava turnover and then with a three-pointer. China led throughout after that.
Miao went on to score 12 points as China led 19-13 at the end of the first quarter.
“Miao played very well,” China coach Tom Maher said.
“She really made the difference defensively and offensively.”
China opened up a 22-point lead in the third quarter, but Belarus fought back.
Yelena Leuchanka scored six of her 13 points to spark an 8-0 run that cut the deficit to 56-47, but Anatoly Buyalsky’s women got no closer.
“We are excited,” said China center Chen Nan about the entry into the last four. “China is going into the semifinals and I’d like to thank the fans for supporting us.”
China 77 (Miao Lijie 28, Chen Xiaoli 15) bt Belarus 62 (Tatiana Troina 15, Anastasiya Verameyenka 13, Yelena Leuchanka 13). Quarterwise Scores: 19-13, 38-25, 56-43.
Australia 79 (Lauren Jackson 17, Belinda Snell 15, Rohanee Cox 10) bt Czech Republic 46 (Ivana Vecerova 8, Hana Machova 8). Quarterwise Scores: 23-10, 38-17, 61-27.
USA 104 (Sylvia Fowles 26, Diana Taurasi 12, Cappie Pondexter 11, Kara Lawson 11) bt Korea 60 (Kim Kweryong 14, Jung Sun-min 13, Beon Yeon-ha 13). Quarterwise Scores: 25-21, 51-30, 77-39.
Russia 84 (Tatiana Shchegoleva 19, Becky Hammon 17, Maria Stepanova 12, Ilona Korstin 11) bt Spain 65 (Amaya Valdemoro 16, Anna Montanana 13). Quarterwise Scores: 10-21, 32-40, 56-55.
Last Modified on 23/08/2008 08:19