A rare dunk as Turkey, Canada women advance

Saturday, August 04, 2012    

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LONDON, England (AP) — Elizabeth Cambage, a 20-year-old Australian, produced one of the defining moments of the women's basketball tournament yesterday at the London Games: she dunked.

FIBA couldn't confirm if the 2.03-metre (6-foot-8) Cambage was the first woman to dunk in an Olympic game. Her older teammates, who jumped off the bench when they saw the move, couldn't remember another one.

"That's the first time I've seen it in the Olympics," said Australia forward Lauren Jackson, playing in her fourth Olympics. "Even in the WNBA, you see some girls do it, on a fast break but she had the zone around her, she had people around her. She made it look so easy.

"I wish I could do that."

Canada and Turkey stuck to more traditional plays to book places in the quarter-finals.

Kim Smith and Courtney Pilypaitis scored 14 points each to help Canada beat winless Brazil 79-73.

Canada (2-2 in Group A) were up by 13 early in the third quarter before Brazil started to rally behind Erika de Souza and Clarissa Santos.

A three-point play by Santos gave Brazil a short-lived 56-55 advantage early in the fourth quarter, but Canada quickly regained the advantage.

Canada led 64-63 midway through the fourth quarter when Pilypaitis and Shona Thornburn hit consecutive three-pointers to make it a seven-point game.

Brazil (0-4) were able to get within 70-67 on Damiris Dantas' three-point play with 3:48 left, but Canada held on the rest of the way.

De Souza had 22 points and 12 rebounds for Brazil.

Captain Nevriye Yilmaz scored 16 points and Turkey also advanced from Group A by beating already qualified China 82-55.

Isil Alben nailed two three-pointers as Turkey ended the first quarter with a 12-0 run to take a 26-13 lead.

Turkey stretched the run to 18-0 to seal the game and China never really challenged again.

American-born Quanitra Hollingsworth added 10 points and 11 rebounds for Turkey (3-1). Chen Nan had 19 points for China.

Cambage caught the ball at the top of the lane from teammate Kristi Harrower with 6:14 left in the third quarter, took one dribble and drove to the basket for the one-handed dunk.

Cambage said she never has dunked before in a game and rarely tries to in practice. Still, she was happy to provide what's sure to be a highlight of the tournament.

"It's good to finally do it and get everyone off my back about it," she said. "I was wide open and I felt it and just did it. It was an out-of-body experience. I wasn't thinking about it."

Australian coach Carrie Graf has encouraged her young star to dunk in warmups to gain more confidence. She was proud to see her do it in the flow of the game.

"To have someone dunk at the Olympics, and a rising star of the women's world game, is huge," Graf said. "It's one of the many things that will continue to put women's basketball on the map as a global game. That's what it does.

"It's a historic, iconic moment in women's sport."

The dunk in the middle of a 12-0 run that gave Australia (3-1) a 44-33 lead -- its biggest of the game.

Cambage not only dunked, she also secured the victory with two free throws and finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds for Australia.

"Cambage posterising people is good for women's basketball," said Becky Hammon, an American-born guard who plays for Russia. "Making plays like that, memorable moments, people aren't going to remember who won or lost that game.

"They'll remember that dunk."

Because it didn't happen on a breakaway and Cambage did it with such ease, there was not much reaction from the crowd.

But the Australian bench erupted after the play and Cambage had a big smile as she ran back on defence.

"I never do it, but everyone wants me to do it, it's the one thing I'm really shy about," Cambage said. "I'm usually not shy about anything, but when it comes to dunking I'm a bit shy."

Cambage was the second pick by the Tulsa Shock in the 2011 WNBA draft. She missed the first part of the WNBA season to train with Australia.

Irina Osipova scored 15 points for Russia, who close out their Group B play on Sunday against France; Australia face Canada.

"It's a very big -- a massive win -- every win is a good win," Cambage said. "If we drop another game we could end up third or fourth. I got my fingers crossed that Russia will beat France."

Earlier, Ana Lelas scored 23 points and Sandra Mandir added 18 to help Croatia beat Angola 75-56 for their first victory. The win kept alive Croatia's chances to advance to the quarter-finals.



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