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Leslie, Dydek Resume Rivalry in U.S. Victory


SYDNEY, Australia — Whether it's the Sparks against the Utah Starzz in the WNBA or the U.S. women's team against Poland in the Olympics, it is always a mesmerizing sight.

For one game, Lisa Leslie is a shrimp.

At 7 feet 2, Poland's Margo Dydek is the tallest woman in the Olympics. She also is the leading scorer in the tournament.

The Sparks' Leslie, at 6-5, isn't far behind, and she and the U.S. team took a 76-57 victory over Poland on Sunday as preliminary-round play ended.

The U.S. advances to a quarterfinal game against Slovakia on Wednesday as one of two unbeaten teams at 5-0.

Australia, which will face Poland in the quarterfinals, is the other unbeaten team. Brazil and Russia meet in another quarterfinal game, and France and South Korea are the final pair.

Dydek scored 24 points Sunday, but only six in the first half as the U.S. took a commanding 23-point lead in front of a crowd of 8,471 in the Dome, many of whom chanted "Polska! Polska!" and booed some of the U.S. players.

"Polish people, they are everywhere," Dydek said. "Some people who live in Australia and Sydney came to cheer for us, and some come from Poland."

The boos intensified after Poland's Edyta Koryzna left the game unable to get her breath after a collision with Leslie on a rebound that Leslie said she didn't feel. Koryzna was later taken off the court in a wheelchair and sent to a hospital, where X-rays revealed no internal injuries.

She was treated and released and a decision about whether she'll play in the quarterfinals will be made later.

Leslie, a villain for once, scored 14 points, 11 in the decisive first half, showing her outside shooting touch with a three-pointer during a 26-6 U.S. run.

"I mix it up," Leslie said. "Depending on where Margo is, I'm going to go opposite. There's no use in me running in there when I can shoot from the outside. And if she does come out, I just go around her. It's pretty much a read of the defense.

"Margo poses a big threat, obviously, clogging up the middle that way. She can block shots, and even though she just stays right there in the middle, you have to find other ways to score. That's where the versatility comes into play."

There is a defensive issue too, and it was Yolanda Griffith, not Leslie, who did most of the work on that front.

"That was my assignment," said Griffith, who had 16 points and 12 rebounds. Sheryl Swoopes also scored 16 points.

"You get tired, you get a sub," Griffith said. "Then DeLisha [Milton] played on her, Natalie Williams [Dydek's teammate on the Starzz] played on her. You put a lot of defenders on her and try to slow her down and make her tired. I think that's what we did."

Dydek's stats were solid, but compared to a 32-point, 13-rebound game with five blocked shots against Cuba earlier in the tournament, she was held in check.

"We didn't want to let anybody get 32 points on us," Griffith said.

Quite a few of the players on the court have watched the Dydek-Leslie show before.

"Any time they face each other, it's a challenge for the two of them," said Milton, Leslie's teammate with the Sparks. "They go back and forth. Neither one wants to bow down to the other. They go at it real hard. Not saying they go out of the lines of fairness, but they are intense."

It's a matchup that gives Leslie a chance to show off some of her other skills, including a flashy pass to Swoopes off the fastbreak.

"Her no-look pass?" Milton said, laughing. "She works on that all the time. We tease her."

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