Posted Jul 28, 2012By DOUG FEINBERG, AP Basketball Writer
LONDON (AP) — Becky Hammon scored 14, including eight down the stretch, and Russia rallied from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter Saturday to beat Canada 58-53 on the opening day of women’s basketball at the Olympics.
Trailing 50-40 with 6 minutes left, Russia closed the game with an 18-3 run led by Hammon. Anna Petrakova hit a 3-pointer and a lay-in to get the spurt started. Then the South Dakota native who plays for the WNBA’s San Antonio Silver Stars, took over. Hammon’s lay-in with 2:35 left tied the game at 50.
Her basket 30 seconds later gave Russia its first lead since early in the opening quarter. Hammon then scored another lay-in that made it 54-51 with 1:06 left.
Canada couldn’t make another basket the rest of the way.
Kim Smith scored 20 points to lead Canada, which returned to the Olympics for the first time in 12 years after earning the final spot in women’s field.
Hammon is playing in her second Olympics for Russia. She became a Russian naturalized citizen before the Beijing Games. Because she hadn’t played for the United States in any major FIBA-sanctioned international events, she is allowed to compete for Russia in the Olympics.
She helped Russia earn the bronze medal in 2008.
Canada qualified for the Olympics for the first time since 2000 after finishing fifth in the pre-Olympic qualifier earlier this month.
Canada’s roster is full of former and current U.S. college players. Courtney Pilypaitis starred for Vermont while Lizanne Murphy played at Hofstra. Natalie Achonwa has played in the last two Final Fours for Notre Dame.
Russia is missing star center Maria Stepanova. The 6-foot-8 star, who has played in the last four Olympics, tore her anterior cruciate ligament at the Euroleague final eight in late March.
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