Midway through the third quarter of Australia's 70-66 victory over Russia on Friday afternoon, 6-foot-8 Aussie center Elizabeth Cambage received a pass at the free-throw line and found a wide-open lane to the basket. The 20-year-old drove to the rim and effortlessly threw down a one-handed dunk, a feat she had only done in practice prior to Friday.
"It's good to finally do it and get everyone off my back about it," Cambage told reporters in London. "I was wide open and I felt it and just did it. It was an out-of-body experience. I wasn't thinking about it."
Whereas U.S. basketball fans are somewhat accustomed to women dunking in games from past slams by Brittney Griner, Candace Parker and Lisa Leslie, Cambage's dunk left many international fans mesmerized. The London crowd stood and roared, her teammates jumped off the bench in celebration and TV commentators on the BBC
Overreaction or not, there's no question that Cambage's dunk is good for women's basketball because it will get folks talking about the sport both in the United States and abroad. FIBA could not officially confirm that Cambage is the only player to have dunked in an Olympic game, but veteran players and coaches all said it was the first time they remembered it happening.
"To have someone dunk at the Olympics, and a rising star of the women's world game is huge," Australian coach Carrie Graf told reporters in London. "It's one of the many things that will continue to put women's basketball on the map as a global game."
History was made when Australia’s Liz Cambage became the first woman to dunk in the Olympics. The 6-8 Cambage caught the ball at the top of the key, took one dribble and threw it down. FIBA couldn’t confirm if Cambage was the first woman to dunk in an Olympic game, but her teammates couldn’t remember another one.
“That’s the first time I’ve seen it in the Olympics,” Australia forward Lauren Jackson said. “Even in the WNBA, you see some girls do it, on a fast break, but she had the zone around her, she had people around her. She made it look so easy.
“I wish I could do that.”
Cambage finished the game with 17 points and 10 rebounds in Australia’s 70-66 win against Russia.
The dunk, however, was the play of the game — and maybe the Olympic tournament.
“Cambage posterizing people is good for women’s basketball,” Russian guard Becky Hammon said. “Making plays like that, memorable moments, people aren’t going to remember who won or lost that game.
“They’ll remember that dunk.”