London: Opals down Russia to win Olympic Bronze + VIDEO
The Opals have won Bronze at the London Olympic Games.
The Opals have won the Bronze Medal at the London Olympic Games after defeating Russia in a nailbiting third-fourth playoff, 83-74.
The Opals had to survive a late rally from the Russians that saw the Europeans charge from 15 points behind early in the final period to close with five points with 1:20 to play.
Fittingly, retiring guard Kristi Harrower sealed the game for the Australians by making 5-of-6 freethrows down the stretch to close out the victory, and was chaired from the court by her teammates after her final appearance for Australia.
Both teams started nervously before Harrower scored on a drive to the basket to open proceedings.
The Russians led 8-4 early, but the Opals refused to let the Europeans get a decisive advantage. On the back of some strong play from Harrower and the Australian bench led by Suzy Batkovic, the Opals held a narrow one-point lead at the first break, 17-16.
Batkovic continued to fire in the second period and had 12 points by the half as the Opals outscored Russia 21-14 in the second to lead by eight at the long break, 38-30.
A 19-13 third period by the Opals saw the Australians take a 57-43 lead into the final period and appear set to cruise to victory.
The Russians had other ideas however as they came charging back behind the play of American-born guard Becky Hammon. It wasn’t until Harrower stepped up to nail the game at the free throw line that the Opals could finally celebrate a remarkable fifth consecutive Olympic medal.