KARLOVY VARY, Czech Republic – Yelena Leuchanka scored 17 points and Yuliya Dureika added 15 to help Belarus upset top-seeded Russia 70-53 Friday in the quarterfinals of the women's basketball world championship.
The team from the former Soviet Republic will face the winner of Australia and the Czech Republic in the semifinals on Saturday.
Becky Hammon scored 16 points and Svetlana Abrosimova added 14 to lead Russia (6-1). The Russians cruised through the preliminary rounds, winning by an average of 18 points.
The Belarusians have improved on the international scene in the last few years. They finished third at the European Championship in 2007 and qualified for their first Olympics in 2008. They placed sixth in Beijing.
Trailing by six at the half, Russia scored the first six points of the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Abrosimova, who plays for WNBA champion Seatle Storm, and a nifty three-point play by Hammon of the San Antonio Silver Stars.
Then Dureika took over, hitting back-to-back 3-pointer and a layup to make it 44-33.
Olga Arteshenka made a layup to cut the deficit to nine, but the Belarusians (4-3) scored the next 10 points to put the game away.
Leuchanka, who plays for the Atlanta Dream, finished 8 for 13 from the field with nine rebounds and four steals.
Belarus also made a splash at the tournament by wearing dress-like uniforms with shorts. The players made a deal with the strength and conditioning coach that if they beat Russia, he would wear one of the outfits for warmups before the semifinals.
Belarus took a 27-11 lead midway through the first half behind strong shooting. The Belarusians made 12 of their first 17 shots.
Russia rallied back behind Hammon, scoring the next seven points. Her 3-pointer made it 33-24 with 2:22 left in the half. Abrosimova hit another one from behind the arc to make it a six-point game before Yuliya Dureika's 3 with 21 seconds left gave Belarus a 36-27 lead at the break.