It's no tall tale as Fowles, US women reach semis

By Doug Feinberg
Associated Press / August 20, 2008
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BEIJING - Sylvia Fowles and the United States women's basketball team were too big for South Korea to handle.

Fowles scored 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the US to a 104-60 rout of South Korea last night and a spot in the semifinals of women's basketball.

"I just wanted to come out and make a statement that I'm back and let my teammates know," Fowles said. "I haven't played well since the first two games and I've been down on myself not contributing as much as I'd like."

It's the sixth straight Olympics the Americans have advanced to the medal round. The only time they didn't qualify for the semis was in 1980 and that's because the US boycotted the Moscow Games.

The Americans will play Becky Hammon and Russia in the semifinals tomorrow night. Russia rallied to beat Spain, 84-65. China plays Australia in the other semifinal.

The US has won 31 straight games since losing to the Unified team in the semifinals of the 1992 Olympics. The Americans were 5-0 in their pool, winning by an average of 43 points. The only trouble they had during group play was in opening minutes against the Czech Republic when they trailed, 13-2, before going on to win by 40 points and when they led Spain by 5 at the half Friday before coasting to a 38-point victory.

South Korea held tough for the first quarter behind hot shooting. The Koreans were 9 for 16 (59 percent) from the field and trailed only 25-21 at the end of the period.

The 6-foot-5-inch Fowles then took over, dominating in the paint. She was a force on both ends of the floor, giving the Americans second and third attempts with offensive rebounds. On the defensive end she was altering or blocking shots.

"She was dominant," said Kara Lawson, who added 11 points. "It's hard to remember that she missed six weeks with that knee injury."

The Americans went on an 18-4 run to start the second period as Fowles had 4 points, 5 rebounds, and 1 block during the spurt. The US outscored South Korea, 26-9, in the period and led by 21 at the half.

Any thoughts of a South Korean comeback were quickly dashed when the Americans opened the third quarter with a 15-4 run. The lead ballooned to 41 behind Fowles, who scored 9 of her points in the period.

She finished 12 for 17 from the field and had eight offensive rebounds. Diana Taurasi added 12 points for the US.

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