Australia scored a crucial win on Friday as they handed Russia their first defeat of the tournament after holding on to a hard-earned 70-66 win the day four of the women’s basketball competition of the 2012 London Olympics.
Liz Cambage was the star of the night for the Opals as she finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds in a performance highlighted by a dunk that send a signal to the rest of the field that the Australians are tough.
With them leading 39-33 with almost six minutes left in the game, Cambage found an open lane and dunked the ball, entering the record books as the first woman basketball to dunk in Olympic game.
“I have never seen one dunk in a game before,” said Australian superstar Lauren Jackson on Cambage’s dunk. “I was on the bench and I just couldn’t believe it. It was different to Lisa Leslie (in the WNBA), because that one was almost a lay-up. This one was much more a dunk.”
Suzy Batkovic also had a huge night, finishing with 15 points and four rebounds, while Jackson added nine points and three rebounds for Australia, who displayed composure and their rich experience down the stretch.
The Opals were in full control of the game in the final period despite just holding a single-digit lead, but the previously undefeated Russians gave them a scare in the final minute.
From a 68-62 deficit, Russia pulled within two points, 66-68, with 50 seconds left in the game, but Cambage sealed the deal for the Opals with two made foul shots, helping the Opals score their third win in four games.
Irina Osipova, on the other hand, led Russia with 15 points and nine rebounds, while Alena Danilochkina and Becky Hammon added 13 and 12 points, respectively, but it was not enough to keep their unbeaten record.