USA downs Opals

LONDON – The Opals will battle for bronze at the women’s basketball world championship after a 12-point defeat by tournament favourites the United States in the semi-finals.

Australia fought hard but found the world’s top-ranked side too strong in a 82-70 loss Istanbul on Saturday night to bow out of gold medal contention.

The Opals will meet Turkey in today’s bronze medal match.

Australia impressed in reaching the last four without injured stars Liz Cambage and Lauren Jackson but a star-studded American side again proved their big-tournament nemesis.

The second-ranked Opals have lost to the US at the past five Olympic Games, including in the semi-finals in London two years ago.

Brendan Joyce’s side made a bright start, leading for much of the first quarter, but struggled under intense defensive pressure from the US to shoot at just 21 per cent in the first period.

The US led 19-16 at the first break but dominated the second quarter to take a 42-30 lead into halftime.

Despite captain Penny Taylor’s court time being limited due to foul trouble, Australia fought back gamely after the main break.