LONDON (Olympics) - Australia signed off from the 2012 Olympic women’s basketball tournament on Saturday with a bronze-medal triumph over Russia.
Led once again by their veteran trio of Lauren Jackson, Kristi Harrower and Suzy Batkovic, the Opals prevailed 83-74.
Jackson, who became the leading scorer in women’s Olympic history earlier in the tournament, poured in 25 points – 21 in the second half.
Harrower added 21 points and Batkovic 17.
"For us it was about our veteran players," said Australian coach Carrie Graf.
"For Kristi Harrower, a four-time Olympian to come out and have the game she had tonight is a difference-maker."
Australia travelled to London with a burning ambition to capture their first Olympic gold medal but after leading the United States into the third quarter of their Semi-Finals, the Americans hit their stride and won, 86-73.
The Aussies nevertheless reached the podium for the fifth straight Olympics with the victory over Russia, who had captured the previous two bronze medals.
The Opals seized the initiative with a 7-0 run early in the second quarter that gave them a 26-20 lead.
They took their biggest lead of the half when Elizabeth Cambage made one of two free-throws for a 38-28 advantage just 23 seconds before the break.
Cambage, who had 19 first-half points against the USA, took an accident shot to the face by a Russia player in the first quarter and scored just three points in the game.
Russia cut the deficit to eight by half-time.
A Becky Hammon drive reduced the deficit to 38-30 before the buzzer.
Instead of Russia making further inroads into the Australia lead after the restart, Carrie Graf's side shifted into a higher gear.
Jackson scored seven points in the frame and veteran guard Kristi Harrower, playing in her fourth and last Olympics for the Opals, gave them their biggest lead with just under two minutes to go.
Harrower drove into the lane and was hacked by Hammon but made the shot and the free-throw for a three-point play to make it 56-39.
Trailing 59-46, Russia turned to Hammon and she scored 11 of their next 13 points.
Russia made a late run.
They closed the gap to 72-64 with 3:17 to go when Hammon dribbled between her legs and managed to pass to Anna Petrakova, who buried a three-ball.
"Russia are a dangerous team," said Graf.
"They're dangerous, even with a sixteen point lead."
"You can't rest on Russia, we know that Becky Hammon can light it up and they can get their perimeter shooters going."
Jackson and Petrakova then traded three-pointers, but Russia failed to box out Batkovic and she rebounded Jackson’s missed three-pointer and put the ball in for a 76-67 Opals lead.
"Their centres did very well. We weren't able to guard them as well as we should have," said Anna Petrakova.
"We should shoot better than we did today. I don't know why, but our shots weren't going in."
Hammon kept the Russian hopes alive with two free-throws, cutting the deficit to 76-69.
Batkovic then fouled Petrakova in a battle for a rebound and the Russian made both attempts from the stripe to close the gap to 76-71.
After a timeout, Jackson drove to the lane and banked in a lay-up.
Petrakova split two free-throws, but Harrower made a pair to push the advantage back to 80-72 and the Opals held on.
"We didn't close the leaders down," said Russia coach Boris Sokolovski.
"Harrower and Lauren Jackson made very many scores together and we could not close them down."
Hammon’s 19 points led Russia.
|P||JACKSON 25||HAMMON 19|
|RB||JACKSON 11||VODOPYANOVA 8|
|A||O'HEA 5||HAMMON 4|
|S||BATKOVIC 2||VODOPYANOVA 2|
|B||BISHOP 2||OSIPOVA 1|
(W/L: 5-2 )
|Points for (avg)||71.6|
|Points against (avg)||66.9|
|2 Points FG||45.2%|
|3 Points FG||26.8%|
(W/L: 4-3 )
|Points for (avg)||63.4|
|Points against (avg)||64.6|
|2 Points FG||38.4%|
|3 Points FG||34.6%|