Stanford grad Sebnem Kimyacioglu hit a 3-pointer with 1:04 left in the third quarter to give Turkey a lead it would never relinquish in a 74-71 victory over Belarus in preliminary play of the 2016 Rio Olympics women's basketball tournament on Thursday at the Youth Arena.
Turkey (2-2) meets Brazil on Saturday to finish play in Group A. The Turks clinched a spot in the elimination tournament, either as the third seed or the fourth seed. The Brazilians lost to France, 74-64, on Thursday.
Australia rallied from a 16-point deficit to beat the Japanese, 92-86, and clinched the group title, since it holds the tie-breaker over France, Turkey and Japan. The French can only tie for the lead.
The Aussies outscored Japan, 31-9, over the final 8:13 of the contest, using a 23-4 run to pull ahead.
Kimyacioglu went 2-of-5 from 3-point range and finished with six points. She also had two assists, a steal and a plus-9 rating.
Turkey downed Japan, 76-66, on Tuesday.
With its back against the wall, the U.S. upset host and world No. 1 Brazil, 25-20, 25-23, 20-25, 25-20 on Thursday in an Olympic match in front of 8,779 at the Maracanazinho stadium.
The victory improves the United States’ record to 1-2 in pool play and improves its chances of advancing to the quarterfinals. The U.S. play France (2-1) on Saturday. Brazil (2-1), which suffered its first loss of the tournament, will play Italy (3-0).
“That is what we needed,” U.S. coach John Speraw said. “This is the Olympic Games and we haven’t been playing well. In order for us to get a win against a great team in this environment we were going to have to fight for every point. Our guys did a great job at that.”
The U.S. passing improved dramatically, led by U.S. libero Erik Shoji, who was credited with 13 digs. Outside hitter Taylor Sander was credited with five digs and 10 excellent receptions.
“They have really good servers,” Shoji said. “We just had to fight off the serves. Some of (the passes) weren’t perfect. We can go back and make some of those betters. Overall, we just stuck together as a team with the three of us passing (Sander, Shoji and outside hitter Aaron Russell) and even Matt (Anderson). We’re just solid and that’s USA Volleyball and we’re really happy with that.
The U.S. Men cut down their errors, particularly in the first set where they scored eight points on Brazil’s errors while committing only four.
The U.S. led 9-6 in aces, led by setter Micah Christenson with four, and 8-6 in blocks, led by Sander with three.
“I was very pleased with the continued improvement of our team,” Speraw said. “I thought we played a much better match against Italy than Canada and we played an even better game tonight especially at the service line. Our games were very aggressive and maintained that pressure throughout the course of the volleyball match. Ultimately, as in most volleyball matches, the serve and pass was the difference.”
Setter Micah Christenson helped the team to a .363 hitting efficiency while Brazil hit .306.
“I think it was a collective effort,” Christenson said. “It took every single person scrapping every single ball to pull that out and to inspire everyone… Matt is scoring points for us and Aaron’s scoring points for us. But Erik Shoji’s making digs and Max Holt’s laying out making digs and he’s a middle blocker. You don’t expect a ton of those.”
Carlin Isles scored twice on tries and Team USA downed Spain, 24-12, to claim ninth place in the Rio Olympics.
Spain set up a lineout before the end of the first half, but a pass into touch a minute later gave East Palo Alto resident Folau Niua a chance to throw the ball into the set piece. That resulted in USA taking a 12-5 lead by halftime.
"I thought the boys attacked well, looked after the ball, and got what they deserved in what was a tough game to come out and have to play," American coach Mike Friday told USA Rugby. "They are men with character. They've shown immense personality, character, and grit to stay in an arm wrestle. They're pioneers. They're leading the way for the USA."
Stanford grad Grace Luczak and teammate Felice Mueller placed second in the semifinals of the women's pair Thursday to earn a spot in the final.
They trailed only Heather Stanning and Helen Glover, the defending Olympic champions from Great Britain. The U.S. finished second in 7:20.93 behind Britain’s 7:18.69.
"Check-mark," Luczak told Ed Moran of USRowing. "That was our goal for today. We’re going to finish our cool down and get ready for tomorrow."
The two crews finished with the fastest times of the semifinals and have set up a dramatic challenge for the final that also will include Spain, Denmark, New Zealand and South Africa.
"The first time that Felice and I were in the pairs together, we were actually in separate pairs racing against each other in 2009 for the U-23 pair," Luczak said. "When we rowed together in 2011, it was really fun. We haven’t been together at the training center since then. Every row together is really magical. We keep building on things, and I can’t underscore enough how much fun it is to row with Felice.”
Rowing in the repechage of the men’s eight, coxswain Sam Ojserkis, Stanford grad Austin Hack, Rob Munn, Mike DiSanto, Steve Kasprzyk, Glenn Ochal, Alex Karwoski, Hans Struzyna and Sam Dommer jumped into the lead and stayed there, winning in 5:51.13.
The Netherlands finished second in 5:52.95, and New Zealand was third in 5:56.94. Poland also advanced in fourth in 5:59.22. Heat winners Germany and Great Britain will join those four crews in the Saturday final.
"It’s certainly been a long journey for us, but it is definitely rewarding that our work has gotten us here," Hack said. "We’re really looking forward to seeing what we can produce in the final."
The men's four just missed getting into the final, placing seventh overall in the semifinal.
Menlo-Atherton High grad Seth Weil, Charlie Cole, Matt Miller and Henrik Rummel were in position to reach the final for the first 1,500 meters of the race. They were rowing in second place, but in a race where none of the top racing crews were letting go.
Going into the final 500 meters, South Africa and Italy started sprints that the U.S. could not match, and they fell into fourth where they crossed in 6:19.08. Australia won in 6:11.82. South Africa was second in 6:15.22, and Italy was third in 6:16.54.
"There’s nothing more disappointing in sport than under performing, but that’s how it goes, I guess," Weil said. "I need a lot of time before I can start diagnosing things like that. Right now, it’s just all emotions."