Storm All-Star Lauren Jackson waltzed into the history books on Tuesday. It just wasn’t the mark she wanted to leave at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
With a turnaround jumper in the fourth quarter of a win against China, the Australian set the all-time Olympic scoring record in women’s basketball. She finished with 12 points in the 75-60 decision for 536 points in four consecutive Games. The total surpassed Brazilian Janeth Arcain’s 535 points (1992-2004) and American Lisa Leslie’s 488 (1996-2008).
The modern format allowed Jackson, a 6-foot-6 center, to play in more overall Olympic games than Arcain, an explosive 5-11 guard.
Jackson was erroneously told last week that she had reached the record. FIBA later retracted the statement, citing a duplicate listing for Janeth Arcain. The international federation for basketball further stated it was the WNBA’s fault because Janeth’s full surname “dos Santos Arcain” was shorten while playing for the Houston Comets from 1997-2005.
“I am happy, obviously, it’s something that’s nice, but I hope we win Thursday,” Jackson told reporters after a surprising come-from-behind win against the Chinese.
The Opals play USA Basketball on Thursday in a semifinal match. It’s the first time since Jackson joined her national team in 2000 that the dual hasn’t been for gold.
Australia’s overtime loss to France in pool play is to blame. Jackson and teammate Liz Cambage, a 6-8 center, fouled out before extra play. The loss placed Australia second at the end of preliminary round play and into the American’s bracket for the knockout rounds.
Jackson, a three-time WNBA MVP, missed the opening portion of the Storm’s season to prepare with her Australian team for gold. Now if the Opals don’t defeat the four-time defending world champions on Thursday, the best Jackson can claim is bronze.
Game-time is set for 9 a.m. (PST) on NBC Sports Network.
The French, which are 6-0 in the tournament, have a chance to contend for their country’s first-ever medal in women’s basketball Olympic competition. They’ll face Russia at 1 p.m. (PST) on NBC Sports Network.
“This has been a unique Olympics for Lauren,” said Australian coach Carrie Graf, who’s also a former Storm assistant. “If you ask Lauren if she could swap (the points record) to have the (game we lost to) France back or do something special at the end of this tournament, I think she would trade. But the record speaks volumes for the impact she’s had on the world basketball scene – she’s an icon.”
Jackson is expected to return to the Storm along with point guard Sue Bird (USA) after the Olympics. Seattle (9-10) has 15 games remaining in its season, 10 at KeyArena. The team resumes play Aug. 16 against Phoenix at home.
“Historically in my experience, the semifinals game has been the most difficult,” Bird told reporters in London. “It’s the game where if you lose you get nothing in terms of the gold medal. So, it’s the game that is probably the hardest to play in the tournament for whatever reason.”
*PHOTO CREDIT: Lauren Jackson shoots a free throw, one of her record-setting points in Olympic women’s basketball play (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)