BEIJING (Olympics) - Miao Lijie tore apart Belarus on Tuesday to lift China to a 77-62 triumph and into the semi-finals of the Olympics.
Miao finished with a game-high 28 points as the Chinese advanced to a likely last four showdown with world champions Australia.
The Opals must first win their quarter-final against the Czech Republic, the second game of the day at the Wukesong Arena.
China’s defense wreaked havoc on the Belarus passing game and forced 27 turnovers – 15 in the first half as the Asian giants opened up a 38-25 lead.
“After beating the Czech Republic and Spain, we couldn’t lose against Belarus, no offense,” Maher said.
Miao was outstanding, making 10 of her 14 shots, including three of five from long range.
She also came up with two of China’s 12 steals.
“Miao played very well,” Maher said. “She really made the difference defensively and offensively.”
The Chinese had a scintillating start, with Miao scoring the game’s first five points with her second basket a three-ball.
The Olympic hosts went in front 14-6 with Miao pouring in half of the points and by the break, she had scored 12.
China, who led from start to finish, opened up a 22-point lead in the third quarter but Belarus made an attempt to get back into the game with just under two minutes to go in the period.
Yelena Leuchanka scored six points in an 8-0 run that cut the deficit to 56-47, but Anatoly Buyalsky’s women got no closer.
"I thought it was sloppy on our behalf,” Maher said of the Belarus run.
Belarus thoroughly dominated China on the boards, grabbing 41 rebounds to just 22 for Maher’s team but the turnovers were costly along with the disparity in free throws.
The Chinese made 19 of 23 compared to just three of four for Belarus.FIBA