Australia stepped up the gas early in the game with a 19-5 run that took the wind off the Korean sails and gave the Opals a 23-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.
That early onslaught primed them for the rest of the game and the Jan Stirling-trained squad recorded a 13-0 run in the second quarter to head into the changing rooms 47-33 ahead.
Thereafter, Australia only consolidated their position and enhanced the margin of victory.
Penny Taylor and Suzy Batkovic shared the scoring honors for Australia with 18 points each. Batkovic also collected 10 rebounds.
Beon Yeon-Ha struck an incredible three-pointer rate, sinking six of her seven attempts, to top the scoring for the game with 20 points.
Russia and Belarus sparred almost equally for the first two quarters and for a good part of the third.
But a 10-0 burst, starting with 3:50 left in the third quarter took Russia to go into the fourth 52-40 ahead. A lead that proved unsurpassable for Belarus, who had finished third to Russia’s title-triumph at last year’s EuroBasket.
Brazil squandered the advantage of leading three quarters and lost the game, for the second time in three outings.
The South Americans who had lost to Korea, in Overtime, having been ahead for most of the game underwent a similar fate against Latvia.
Latvia got their first lead in the game only in the opening moments of the final quarter capped their rally to keep themselves alive in the race for a quarterfinal place.
Skipper Anete Jekabsone-Zogota who returned a game-high 25 points, sealed the issue for Latvia with her dribble into the lane. Brazil did have a chance after that, but veteran guard Adriana Pinto’s attempt from 10-feet away bounced back from the board and out, off the front rim.
Adriana had earlier scored 12 points to support Soeli Zakrzeski’s 16 and Kelly Santos’ 15.
“They had a very good ending,” Adriana said. “We had many mistakes in defense as we weren’t able to stop their shots and their easy lay-up.”
Russia 71 (Maria Stephanova 13, Ilona Korstin 11, Rebecca Hammon 10) bt Belarus 65 (Natallia Marchanka 16, Yelena Leuchanka 15, Katsiaryna Snytsina 15). Quarterwise Scores: 20-19, 35-27, 52-40.
Latvia 79 (Anete Jekabsone-Zogota 25, Ieva Kublina 14, Gunta Basko 12) bt Brazil 78 (Soeli Zakrzeski 16, Kelly Santos 15, Adriana Pinto 12). Quarterwise Scores: 14-23, 31-36, 57-59.
Australia 90 (Penny Taylor 18, Suzy Batkovic 18, Lauren Jackson 16) bt Korea 62 (Beon Yeon-Ha 20, Jung Sun-Min 11). Quarterwise Scores: 23-14, 47-33, 73-50.
Lisa Leslie set an Olympic record with a 7-for-7 from the field to lead the American rampage. The Los Angeles Sparks center, who thus bettered the 6-for-6 field record set by Katie Smith (2000) and Nikki McCray (1996), topped the scoring for her side with 16 points.
Mali, playing without their captain Hamchetou Maiga, out due to an ankle injury suffered in the previous game, surprised the Wukesong Arena with their 8-0 run to nudge ahead. But that proved a mere flash in the pan.
USA, who had scored the first seven points of the game, hit back to seize control and closed the first quarter 24-12. And in the next 10 minutes, the Anne Donovan-trained team had surged ahead 51-28. They coasted home over the final two quarters.
Eleven out of the 12 players scored – Delisha Milton-Jones being the exception – as the USA posted their 28th win on the trot.
China, who had lost to the USA on Sunday, left nothing to chance right from the beginning.
Center Chen Nan played the best game of the tournament yet, with a game-high 26 points and pulled down a staggering 17 rebounds as the hosts raced away 26-18 to end the first quarter never to turn back. That 18 of her points and 10 of her boards came in the first quarter spoke for the Chen’s contribution for the Tom Maher-trained squad to establish early command.
“I just know that they intended to beat us but we have more talent,” Maher, who had coached New Zealand at the Athens Olympics 2004, said.
“We play together and we never quit. We should have won the game and we did. We took care of business and I'm happy at it,” the Aussie added.
China surged ahead by 18 points at one stage and then closed the first half 48-31 ahead to consolidate their position.
Angela Marino and Jillian Harmon, who had both played under Maher four years ago, when the Tall Ferns made the last eight stage, shared the scoring for New Zealand with 14 points apiece.
Spain were on the back foot as they began their game against the Czech Republic.
The Evaristo Perez-trained team trailed by as many as nine points towards the end of first quarter, but over the next nine minutes kept their opponents to just three points before tying the score at 23. That was with 4:33 left in the second quarter. Spain then nudged ahead 28-27 at the end of the first half.
Spain seized charge of the proceedings early in the third quarter. Two three pointers Amaya Valdemoro and one each from Elisa Aguilar and Anna Montanana fired Spain into a 58-38 lead going into the final quarter. And the cantered away without any further trouble.
Montanana topped the scoring for the game with 20 points, while Valdemoro had 13.
“I think our defensive intensity was the key to our game,” Montanana said.
“We didn't do that against China and New Zealand but we had done that in our preparation games,” the Perfumerías Avenida forward added.
“We spoke about it before the game. We knew that without that, we have nothing. We started a little flat but we stepped up the pressure from the second quarter and when we do that, it's difficult for a team to play against us."
Spain forced 24 turnovers on the Czechs, two more than their own, and were 34-29 in rebounds.
Spain 74 (Anna Montanana 20, Amaya Valdemoro 13, Isa Sanchez 10) bt Czech Republic 55 (Eva Viteckova 12, Hana Machova 11). Quarterwise Scores: 15-21, 28-27, 58-38.
China 80 (Chen Nan 26, Lijie Miao 15) bt New Zealand 63 (Jillian Harmon 14, Angela Marino 14). Quarterwise Scores: 26-18, 48-31, 65-48.
USA 97 (Lisa Leslie 16, Seimone Augustus 12) bt Mali 41(Aminata Sininta 13). Quarterwise Scores: 24-12, 51-28, 76-33.
Korea, Belarus and Latvia are all 1-2 in win-loss record with Friday’s games assuming great significance. Brazil are 0-3 and need to beat Russia to keep their chances alive. Australia play Latvia and Korea match wits with Belarus.
On Friday, China take on Mali hoping to improve their 2-1 record and Spain, also at 2-1, will play the USA. New Zealand and Czech Republic, both at 1-2, clash with each other.
Last Modified on 23/08/2008 08:30