BEIJING (Olympics) – The United States faced some tricky moments against Russia but held their nerve and won 67-52 to advance to the final of the women’s basketball tournament at the Beijing Games.
The Americans trailed by as many as seven points late in the first half and were behind 38-33 three minutes into the third quarter when they went on a 12-0 run to take the lead for good. Russia had won five of the previous six games, including a quarter-final win over Spain, but were no match for the United States in the end.
The USA had 22 steals, and coach Anne Donovan said: “Two years ago, when Russia beat us, we weren’t a defensive team at all.
“We knew if we came into this tournament and didn’t shoot the ball well as was the case today, we would have to rely on our defense.
“It came to that tonight.
“We knew we had to defend or else it was going to be a long night. Our girls did that very well.”
The USA women, just as the men’s team did against Australia 24 hours earlier, also claimed plenty of offensive rebounds for second- and third-chance points.
They won the battle of the boards 52-33 and claimed 21 off the offensive glass to just nine for the Russians.
The USA shut down American Becky Hammon, the CSKA Moscow guard who took Russian citizenship earlier this year and accepted an offer to play for the national team.
She had just three points in the game on one of six shooting, including zero for four from three-point range.
"There were two people on me every time,” Hammon said to FIBA.com.
“They are very quick to get the ball out of my hands. I did my best, sometimes it's better than other days, the effort was there. We still have another game."
The Russians will play in the bronze medal game against the loser of China’s semi-final with Australia.
The defeat is a bitter blow for Russia, who led by 16 points against Australia in Group A but lost 75-55, consigning them to second place.
That result put them into the semi-final against the three-time defending champions USA.
Diana Taurasi had 21 points and nine rebounds for the USA.
Tina Thompson poured in 15 and pulled down four boards while Sylvia Fowles had 10 rebounds to go with her eight points.
The USA got a huge lift from Tamika Catchings, who scored four points and corralled eight rebounds while also playing her customary suffocating defense.
Maria Stepanova scored 14 points and had five rebounds for Russia.FIBA