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Fowles, US beat South Korea in women's basketball

Aug. 19, 2008, 12:14 p.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Sylvia Fowles and the U.S. women's basketball team were too big for South Korea to handle.

Fowles scored 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the U.S. to a 104-60 rout of South Korea on Tuesday night and advance to the semifinals of women's basketball.

"I just wanted to come out and make a statement that I'm back and let my teammates know," Fowles said. "I haven't played well since the first two games and I've been down on myself not contributing as much as I'd like."

It's the sixth straight Olympics that the Americans have advanced to the medal round. The only time they didn't qualify for the semis in the history of women's basketball was in 1980 and that's because the U.S. boycotted the Moscow Games.

The Americans will play Becky Hammon and Russia in the semifinals Thursday night. Russia rallied to beat Spain 84-65 Tuesday night. China plays Australia in the other semifinal.

The U.S. has now won 31 straight games since losing to the Unified team in the semifinals of the 1992 Olympics. The Americans were 5-0 in their pool, winning by an average of 43 points. The only trouble they had during group play was in the first 3 minutes against the Czech Republic when they trailed 13-2 before going on to win by 40 points and when they led Spain by five at the half Friday before coasting to a 38-point victory.

On Tuesday, South Korea held tough for the first quarter behind hot shooting. They were 9-for-16 (59 percent) from the field in the period and only were down 25-21 at the end of the period.

The 6-foot-5 Fowles and the U.S. then took over dominating the paint. She was a force on both ends of the floor, giving the Americans second and third attempts with offensive rebounds. On the defensive end she was altering or blocking shots.

"She was dominant tonight," said Kara Lawson, who added 11 points for the U.S. "It's hard to remember that she missed six weeks with that knee injury."

The Americans went on a 18-4 run to start the period as Fowles had four points, five rebounds and a block during the spurt. The U.S. outscored South Korea 26-9 in the period and led by 21 at the half.

Any thoughts of a South Korean comeback were quickly dashed when the Americans opened the third quarter with a 15-4 run. The lead ballooned to 41 behind Fowles, who scored nine of her points in the period. About the only thing that upset Fowles was that she had a chance on the break

She finished the game 12-for-17 from the field and had eight offensive rebounds.

The average height of the South Korea team was 5-foot-10 and the U.S. outrebounded the fourth seed from Group A 50-24 and outscored them 66-28 in the paint.

"That was our goal to go inside and get them in early foul trouble," said 6-foot-4 Candace Parker, who added eight points. "They couldn't match up with our size."

Diana Taurasi added 12 points and Cappie Pondexter had 11.

Kim Kwer-yong scored 14 points and Beon Yung-ha and Jung Sun-min each had 13 points to lead South Korea.

South Korea guard Choi Youn-ah was taken to a local hospital after the loss. She injured her back while going for a loose ball during the game. South Korean coach Jung Duk-haw didn't know the extent of the injury.