Dunk Alert: Liz Cambage Dunks, Australia beats Russia
LONDON (AP) – Liz Cambage made the play of the day – maybe of the Olympic women’s basketball tournament.
The 6-foot-8 Australian dunked.
FIBA couldn’t confirm if the 20-year Cambage was the first woman to dunk in an Olympic game. But she and her teammates knew she had done something special Friday in Australia’s 70-66 victory over Russia.
“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.”
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 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.
Russia (3-1) battled back to close within 61-58 with 4:22 left in the game on Becky Hammon’s 3-pointer. Australia responded extending its lead back up to 68-62 on Jenna O’Hea’s 3-pointer with 1:27 left.
Hammon’s basket with 50 seconds left made it 68-66 before Cambage hit two free throws to seal the victory.
Cambage finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds for Australia.
But it was her dunk that was the highlight of the game.
“Cambage posterizing people is good for women’s basketball,” Hammon said. “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 defense.
“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.
Australia held a 32-30 halftime advantage despite going without a basket for the final 5:18 of the second quarter. The Aussies led 30-23 after Batkovic’s three-point play before Russia scored seven straight to tie it at 30. Batkovic, who scored the final seven points of the half for the Aussie, hit two free throws with 3 seconds left to cap the scoring.
Irina Osipova scored 15 points for Russia, which closes out its pool play on Sunday against France; Australia faces 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.”