SEOUL, South Korea--The Soviet Union handed the United States only its second defeat ever in men's Olympic basketball last night, holding off a final American rally, 82-76, in their first matchup since the infamous finish in Munich 16 years ago.
Like then, the Soviets denied the United States any chance of a gold medal.
Unlike then, there was no controversy this time.
The Americans did get within three points with three seconds to go, but a free throw one second later left the Soviets exchanging high fives and the Americans holding their heads in their hands.
The Soviets dictated the tempo of the game, held Danny Manning to no points and never allowed the U.S. team's pressure defense to take control.
The Soviets will face the winner of today's Yugoslavia-Australia semifinal for the gold medal Friday, a rematch of the first-round game won by the Yugoslavs.
The United States, now 85-2 in Olympic basketball and 6-1 this year, will face the Yugoslavia-Australia loser for the bronze medal tomorrow.
The United States, cold outside and ineffective inside, led just twice, the last time, 4-3.
The Americans hit just 27 of 61, while the Soviets were 26 of 59.
David Robinson led the U.S. in scoring with 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Dan Majerle and Charles E. Smith were the only other Americans in double figures in scoring with 15 and 11 points.
Arvidas Sabonis, a first-round draft pick of the NBA Portland Trail Blazers, had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Soviets. Rimas Kourtinaitis had 28 points for the Soviets.
The U.S. team managed to get within three points twice in the last minute and a half.
Majerle made the first of two free throws and rebounded his own miss on the second to make it 77-74 with 1:21 left.
Kourtinaitis beat the U.S. press with an easy layup 14 seconds later, and Willie Anderson's steal at midcourt and dunk with 22 seconds left made it 79-76, but the Soviets took possession of the ball rather than shoot free throws.