Brazil’s women’s basketball team nearly provided the host country with one of the moments of the Olympics in a Group A prelim against Belarus. Iziane Castro’s shot at the buzzer came within inches of giving Brazil their first win of the tournament.
Instead, Belarus, once down 18, mounted a big comeback to win 65-63. Belarus, who had four players in double figures, was led by Tatyana Troina with 18 points. Yelena Leuchanka paced Belarus on the boards with six rebounds to go along with 15 points.
Brazil got off to a hot start offensively as they led 28-16 after the first quarter. They looked as if they were going to run away with the game as they extended their lead to 38-20 after back to back old fashion three-point plays. The home crowd was electrifying as the Brazilians fed off the crowd’s energy. However, Brazil’s shot making began to fail them, and a string of turnovers did not help. Belarus caught fire and ended the half on a 15-2 run to cut the deficit to 40-35.
With the second half beginning, Belarus had all the momentum. The pace of the game slowed down a bit as the two teams were tied at 50 to end the third quarter.
Both teams, looking for their first win at these Olympics, left everything on the court in the final quarter. The teams exchanged leads several times as both countries were playing extremely aggressive in hopes of gaining a valuable victory in the group.
Brazil took a 63-62 lead on a Clarissa Santos fastbreak layup. The biggest shot of the game came from Tatyana Troina, whose dagger three-pointer from the right wing put Belarus ahead with just seconds to play. Belarus’ stellar defense in the closing seconds helped force a contested Brazilian shot that clanked off the rim as time expired.
Brazil received phenomenal play from their two stars, Damiris Dantas and Santos. Dantas had 23 points, 10 rebounds and 4 steals, while had Santos 17 points, 11 rebound and 4 steals.
Belarus returns to action on Thursday against Turkey. Brazil will look to grab their first win Thursday against France.