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Originally published Friday, September 22, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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Basketball | U.S. win streak ends at worlds

One Storm player's gold-medal dreams are still alive. The other's ended Thursday night. Russia beat Storm guard Sue Bird and the two-time...

SAO PAULO, Brazil — One Storm player's gold-medal dreams are still alive. The other's ended Thursday night.

Russia beat Storm guard Sue Bird and the two-time defending champion United States 75-68 in the semifinals of the women's world championships.

Ilona Korstin made two free throws with 10 seconds to go and Russia (5-3) advanced to Saturday's gold-medal game against Australia and Storm forward Lauren Jackson, who scored 19 points and pulled down seven rebounds as the Aussies (8-0) beat Brazil 88-76 in the other semifinal.

"They came out and shot better than they had all tournament," said U.S. coach Anne Donovan, also coach of the Storm. "This was the time when you have to step up and perform and I thought Russia did a great job with that tonight. Hats off to them."

The U.S. loss snapped the Americans' 26-game winning streak in this event. Five players — Bird, Tamika Catchings, DeLisha Milton-Jones, Katie Smith and Sheryl Swoopes — were on this team and the 2002 championship team.

Russia took advantage of poor shooting and sloppy ballhandling by the U.S. to take a 58-38 lead after three quarters. The Americans closed to 73-68 with 45 seconds left, but after two missed free throws by Oxana Rakhmatulina with 30 seconds to go, the U.S. took up almost all of the 24-second shot clock and Candace Parker missed a layup with 12 seconds left.

The United States' last loss in the world championships was to Brazil, 110-107, in the semifinals in 1994. The U.S. had won 51 straight games in the world championships and Olympics dating to that loss.

The U.S. (7-1) beat Russia 90-80 in the first round. The United States, which has won seven world championships, entered the tournament ranked No. 1 by FIBA, while Russia was No. 2.

Diana Taurasi had six points in the United States' 13-2 run to open the fourth quarter. Russia had the lead back to 73-58 with 2 ½ minutes to go, but the United States' full-court pressure allowed it to get back within 73-68 on a three-pointer by Bird with 45 seconds to go. She finished with eight points; Taurasi had a game-high 21.


• The Hornets have requested an option that would allow the team to spend a third season in Oklahoma City as a contingency plan if it is unable to return to New Orleans in 2007-08 as planned.

• Atlanta guard Speedy Claxton, 28, is questionable for the beginning of the season after breaking a bone in his left hand. Claxton signed a four-year, $25.5 million deal in July.

• Memphis rookie guard Tarence Kinsey suffered a right orbital fracture and could miss up to a month.

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