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GB go down fighting to Russia

August 1, 2012 19:06 pm

It was a familiar story for Great Britain basketball as the women gave European champions Russia a thorough examination but came up short of an upset in a 61-67 defeat.

Britain took advantage of a sloppy start from the European champions to jump into an early double-digit lead but Russia soon found their rhythm, and their shooting touch, to turn things around.

Britain kept fighting, clawing their way back from 12 points down in the second half to keep the pressure on in the final minutes but their opponents saw the job through. Russia committed five turnovers in the opening four minutes and Britain capitalised to go 12-2 up with back-to-back lay-ups from Temi Fagbenle.

Russia brought their veteran point guard Becky Hammon off the bench and she inspired a 10-0 run that brought them level with two three-point plays from Olga Arteshina. But Britain's problems really began when Russia found their touch from three-point range.

Anna Petrakova, Evgenia Belyakova and Hammon all got in on the act as Russia quickly built a lead. Natalie Stafford hit Britain's sole three of the first half to make it 30-25 but Belyakova replied with two more and Russia's seventh of the first half, from Marina Kuzina, gave them a 39-27 half-time lead.

Britain made another spirited start to the second half, with back-to-back baskets from Stafford cutting the gap. However, Russia soon got going with their three-point shooting again and it was 48-36 on a shot from deep by Arteshina.

Stafford drew a foul on a three-point attempt and hit all her free throws, and when Julie Page added two and Rose Anderson broke away for an easy lay-up, Britain brought the crowd back to life with the score 48-43.

They were able to maintain the pressure, with a three from Johannah Leedham making it 56-50 six and a half minutes from time and another from Anderson making it a seven-point game, 60-53.

Stef Collins' fast-break lay-up made it 61-55 heading into the final two minutes and Leedham twice went to the line, making her first three attempts but missing the chance to make it a two-point game.

Ilona Korstin split a pair for Russia in response. Fagbenle grabbed the missed free throw but the ball slipped out of her hands and Russia punished her when Korstin sank a jump-shot to make it 64-58 with 27 seconds left. It was Korstin again who went to the line for Russia, making both her free throws to seal Britain's fate.

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