Both Team USA and the hosting Czech Republic advanced to Sunday's gold-medal game of the 2010 Women's World Championships with semifinal wins Saturday.
One team got there the easy way; the other team took a more difficult path. Czech Republic rode the wave of hometown support, scrapping back and forth with Belarus in an extremely tight game. A Czech ballhandling error, followed by a foul, late in the fourth quarter tied the game at 68 apiece at the final buzzer and send it into extra minutes.
The Czechs outscored Belarus 13-9 in overtime to take the 81-77 win and advance to the gold medal game for the first time in history.
In contrast, Team USA romped to a 106-70 win over a Spanish team that was playing without star center Sancho Lyttle, who was taken to the hospital last night after injuring her back in the third quarter of Spain's overtime win over France. Whether she can play in Sunday's bronze medal match remains a game-time decision.
Team captain Amaya Valdemoro, the hero of the win over France, saw limited minutes in Saturday's semifinal game due to "fatigue." The clear inference from Spanish Coach Jose Hernandez is that once he saw the U.S. get off to such a strong start (29-16 in the first quarter alone), he opted to rest his key players for tomorrow's medal game, a game he felt he had at least some chance of winning.