France Shut Down Spanish Attack, Get To Final


A tough France defense shut down Spain 61-56 to dethrone the defending champions and advance to the final of the U20 European Championship for Women.

Lucie Bouthers came off the bench to score a team-high 15 points and Carine Paul added 12 points, while the French defence held the Spanish to just 32 percent shooting for the semi-final.

Spain were led by 19 points from Gaby Ocete while Anna Carbo added 17 points - but just two in the second half - and Aauri Bokesa chipped in 10 poitns.

"We make some changes after the first hafl on Carbo. And the team was very focused and our defence was the key to the game," said French coach Adbou Ndiaye.

"We are very happy to be in the final. I hope the team can keep up its concentration for tomorrow."

France will meet three-time U20 champions Russia in Sunday's final in Pescara.

Just like the first semi-final, both teams started cold with Spain leading just 5-4 after five minutes. The game was an up-tempo affair, however, with Jordi Fernandez's Spaniards relying on the offense of Ocete and Carbo. The biggest lead of the first quarter was four points and Spain were up 22-18 after one quarter.

Carbo continued her hot night as her three-pointer pushed the advantage to 31-23. But Ndiaye's team turned up the defence, holding Spain scoreless for the final 6:37 of the half.

Carine Paul and Lucie Bouthers both drained three-balls to knot the game at 31-31. And Lorraine Lokoka put back an offensive rebound just before the half-time buzzer to complete the 12-0 run for a 35-31 advantage.

Ocete started the second half with a triple only to see Sarah Michel convert a three-point play and Bouthers hit another trey as France opened their biggest lead of the game at 45-38. Spain answered with three-balls from Ocete and Noelia Oliva to make it a one-point game. France pushed it back to five points before leading 49-46 after three periods.

Spain were able to force a couple turnovers and run but could not take the lead back despite twice cutting the deficit to one point - including Ocete's lay-up for 55-54. Ocete, however, was short on three straight triple attempts, and Paul grabbed her own offensive rebound and hit a jumper just before the shot clock buzzer as France led 59-54 with 51 seconds to play.

Guard Ingrid Tanqueray, who scored eight points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the game, made one foul shot with 15 seconds to secure the win.




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