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Russians Make U.S. Women Work

September 20, 2000|ROBYN NORWOOD

A shorthanded Russian team made the U.S. women's basketball team sweat out a victory today, taking a three-point lead at halftime before the U.S. pulled ahead to win, 88-77, in front of 8,383 at the Dome in Sydney.

It was the closest game in the past two Olympics for the Americans, who never trailed at halftime on their way to the gold medal in Atlanta in 1996 and haven't lost in the Olympics since they were beaten by the Unified Team in the semifinals at Barcelona in 1992.

Led by guard Anna Arkhipova with Connecticut star Svetlana Abrosimova pitching in off the bench, the Russians (2-1) led by as many as eight points in the first half.

The U.S. (3-0) came back in the second, finally taking the lead, 52-50, on a three-pointer by Nikki McCray with 16:46 left. Ruthie Bolton-Holified had two key three pointers, and Lisa Leslie led the U.S. with 18 points.

Russia was short-handed because two key players were injured. Point guard Irina Soumnikova broke her right wrist and underwent plastic surgery after taking an elbow to the face from a Cuban player in Russia's opening game, and Ioulia Skopa didn't play because of a sore knee.

The Russian national team is also missing perhaps its best player, center Elena Baranova, who plays for the WNBA's Miami Sol but missed the season because of knee surgery.

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