BEIJING (Olympics) – Russia broken open a close game late in the third quarter but then had to hold on over the final minutes of the game to beat Belarus 71-65 on day three of the Olympic women’s basketball competition.
The European champions improved to 3-0 in Group A while Belarus dropped to 1-2.
The Russians only led 42-40 following a jump shot from Belarus forward Katsiaryna Snytsina, but Svetlana Abrosimova scored in the lane with 3:05 remaining in the third quarter to ignite a 10-0 run.
Russia did not press home the advantage in the last quarter, though, with Belarus twice closing the gap to just four but getting no closer.
Natallia Marchanka of Belarus, last year’s bronze-medal winners at the EuroBasket Women, scored 10 of her game-high 16 points in the fourth quarter.
She said to FIBA.com: "We went on the floor ready to win this game.
“It was tough, it was challenging. We fought until the end but we didn't make some very important shots and I wouldn't say that we gave up, but that didn't help us today.
"Russia is a very experienced team and that is what hindered us.”
Maria Stepanova topped the scoring for Russia with 13 points, followed by Korstin with 11 and Becky Hammon with 10.
Russia suffered two defeats at the FIBA Diamond Ball shortly before the Olympics and since arriving in Beijing, they have struggled to win all three games.
"I hope we will play better and better,” Stepanova said to FIBA.com.
“But the next game (against Brazil) will be harder and harder and we need to watch a video and see the mistakes we have made in this game, what went wrong, in terms of turnovers and we must get more rebounds.”
Russia did out-rebound Belarus 52-41 but they had a hard time keeping Yelena Leuchanka off the boards. She had 12 rebounds to go with her 15 points.
"We played against Belarus in the preparations,” Stepanova said. “We were familiar with their play. We knew it was going to be tough and that they would fight until the end.”
Snytsina poured in all 15 of her points after the break.
Belarus now face a tricky game against Korea, a team that came from behind to defeat Brazil and nearly upset Russia in their second game.
“We have everything ahead of us,” Marchanka said.
"Korea is a tough team to beat.
“They are not as tall as our post players. We are going to play tough defense and everything will fall in place."FIBA