Serbia stunner: Australia ousted 73-71 in women's basketball
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Liz Cambage cried. Penny Taylor, whose long career is over when the WNBA season ends, stood with her hands on her head staring into space in stunned disbelief.
The Serbia women's basketball team raced to midcourt, hugging and jumping before circling together and dancing.
The Serbs, playing in the Olympic tournament for the first time, shocked Australia by eliminating the three-time silver medalists 73-71 Tuesday in the first major upset.
''It's history made for Serbia. It's such an honor,'' said Serbia forward Danielle Page, who was choking up with tears. ''It's an honor to be part of this team.''
Ana Dabovic hit a free throw with 10.2 seconds left to give Serbia a two-point lead and the Aussies had one last chance to force overtime or win it. But Australia guard Leilani Mitchell's heave from near the three-point line was short, and Marianna Tolo's desperation put-back didn't hit the rim - sending the jubilant Serbs racing to midcourt to celebrate.
Australia coach Brendan Joyce said the Aussies, whose streak of medaling in every Olympics since 1996 came to an abrupt end, didn't take the Euro champs for granted.
''Heartbreaker to go down by 2,'' Joyce said. ''Not get a shot off with 10 seconds left. Didn't have the correct spacing. One of the players lost her focus and wasn't supposed to be a double screen.''
Taylor's final game in an Aussie jersey wasn't memorable. The 35-year-old forward missed all seven of her shots, finishing with two points and nine assists.
''Representing a country is the ultimate goal, and you want to do it well,'' Taylor said. ''Make people proud and definitely could have done more tonight.''
An emotional Cambage, who has carried the Aussies in Rio and had 29 points and 11 rebounds, didn't talk with the media when she left the court.
The Australians struggled with 26 turnovers - 16 of those steals by the Serbs. The Aussies led by nine in the third quarter but couldn't hold onto the lead with Serbia playing so aggressively on defense.
''We threw the ball away a lot,'' Taylor said. ''The turnovers killed us. Not getting good shots or getting any shot when we threw the ball away. We're disappointed, but credit to a team that played really well tonight.''
Serbia will play Spain, a 64-62 winner over Turkey, on Thursday for a spot in the gold medal game.
Dabovic finished with 24 points for Serbia and three steals herself. She scored the final three points for Serbia.
''She was unstoppable,'' said Page, who played at Nebraska in college. ''Defensively, she's such a smart defender to win ball games. Saw that she's such an important piece of our team without her we weren't winning that ball game.''
AP Summer Games website: http://summergames.ap.org/