Serbia rallies to reach semifinals by ousting China 77-70 – The San Diego Union-Tribune

SAITAMA, Japan — 

Ana Dabovic scored nine of her 13 points in the fourth quarter as Serbia to beat China 77-70 Wednesday to reach a second straight semifinals.

The Serbians (3-1) now will play either the United States or Australia in the semifinals on Friday trying to improve on the bronze they won at the 2016 Rio Games.

At the final buzzer, they gathered in a circle on the court and danced before hugging in celebration after rallying from a nine-point deficit for the win. Dabovic helped fuel the comeback with a deep 3-pointer that was closer to the Olympic logo at halfcourt than the 3-point line as Serbia grabbed the momentum with a 12-0 spurt to open the fourth.

China (3-1) went undefeated in pool play and led 58-49 at the end of the third quarter. With Yao Ming watching from the bench, the Chinese missed reaching the semifinals for the first time since the 2008 Beijing Games.

Han Xu’s layup tied it up at 70 with 2:13 left. Sonja Vasic hit two free throws with 1:53 to go, giving her nine straight points and putting Serbia ahead to stay.

Jelena Brooks led Serbia with 18 points. Vasic finished with 16 points, nine in the fourth quarter, and also grabbed 10 rebounds.

Shao Ting scored 17 points to lead China. Han added 15, and Li Yueru had 12.

Serbia led 16-14 after the first quarter. Brooks scored 12 points in the second quarter, helping Serbia take a 35-33 lead into halftime. China made 10-of-11 free throws in the third quarter and grabbed its biggest lead at 58-49 going into the fourth.

NO ADVANTAGE

China came in with a decided height advantage with three players 6-foot-6 or taller, including the 6-9 Han; Serbia’s tallest player is 6-5 Dragana Stankovic. That didn’t stop Serbia from outscoring China in the paint 38-24 despite being outrebounded 37-33.

BEYOND THE ARC

China came in shooting 37.5% from 3-point range, third best in pool play. The shots didn’t fall early in this game as the Chinese missed their first nine 3s. Sun Mengran finally knocked the first down with 6:12 left in the second quarter.

LINE PERFECTION

The Chinese couldn’t have started better at the free throw line. China made all six attempts in the first half, then made the first nine in the quarter until Shao missed the first of her two attempts with 6 seconds left.

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