Hammon Leads Women to Bronze

APBecky Hammon being presented with her bronze medal on Saturday.
BEIJING -- Becky Hammon scored 22 points to help Russia beat host China 94-81 Saturday night for the Olympic bronze medal.

Maria Stepanova added 15 points for the Russians, who also won the bronze in Athens four years ago. In a game in which neither team had much trouble getting good shots, Russia shot 54 percent and hit nine 3-pointers while maintaining a double-digit margin most of the way.

It was a strong bounceback game for Hammon, the U.S.-born WNBA star and naturalized Russian citizen. She managed three points on 1-for-6 shooting in Thursday's 67-52 semifinal loss to the United States, but had 11 in the first half and finished with four 3s Saturday.

Chen Nan scored 26 points for China, which was trying to win its first women's basketball medal since taking home silver in Barcelona in 1992. Its only other medal was the bronze in Los Angeles 24 years ago.

Playing in front of yet another vocal home-country crowd, the Chinese had a much better offensive showing than in their 90-56 loss to Australia in the semifinals. They shot 55 percent for the game and knocked down plenty of the open looks they missed against the Aussies, but they never managed to slow the Russians at the other end.

Still, it was China's best showing in the Olympics since Barcelona. The Chinese had finished ninth in 1996 and 2004, and didn't qualify for Sydney in 2000.

With both teams shooting nearly 60 percent for most of the first half, Russia managed to slowly build its margin by going to the perimeter, which was a struggle in the loss to the Americans.

After missing 13 of 14 3-pointers in that game, the Russians went 8-for-13 from behind the arc in the opening half and pushed ahead for good in the second quarter. Hammon had three of them, pumping her fist in excitement after draining the first one 2 1/2 minutes into the period -- likely releasing some of the frustration that had built up while facing constant double teams against the U.S. team.

She later banked in a 3 over Song Xiaoyun as she was bumped to the ground in the final minute of the half, helping the Russians take a 52-37 lead just before the break.

China got no closer than 11 points in the second half.