By Joseph Wilson
France got its second win in dramatic fashion pulling out a nail-biter against Belarus in overtime 63-61.
The back and forth contest was capped off by two great shots- one at the end of regulation and the other as the extra five minutes expired.
The difference between the two shots was that France's Emmanuelle Hermouet got off her jumper right before the fourth quarter buzzer blew while Belarus forwards Tatyana Troina's three-pointer left her finger tips a fraction of a second too late in at the end of overtime.
The sequence of the final moments of the fourth quarter was a whirlwind.
Exactly at the 2:00 mark Belarus took a 59-55 lead on a three-pointer by Yuliya Dureika.
France pulled to within two points seconds later on a pair of clutch free throws by Emmeline Ndongue.
Belarus couldn't score on two straight opportunities while France's point guard Celine Dumerc missed a jumper.
Yuliya Dureika then missed a lay-up that would have sealed it giving France the final possession.
Dumerc had two chances to win it for France. She missed a three with nine seconds left, and then again saw her three rim-out with :03 on the clock.
Belarus had the game, but the rebound slipped out of both Dureika's and Yelena Leuchenka's hands and fell out of bounds with 1.3 seconds on the scoreboard.
After a timeout by French coach Pierre Vincent, Cathy Melain found Hermouet in the corner for the jumper that sent the game into a five minute prologue.
In overtime Belarus came out cold. Even so, after Ndongue missed two free throws with her team leading 63-61, Belarus had the ball and nine seconds to get a shot for the win.
Troina's three ripped the net, just a half-second late.
Melain, who also had a block with :20 to go in overtime along with her clutch assist at the end of regulation, played down her crucial plays.
"The important thing isn't what happened at the end, it is what we didn't do before. We were up by more than ten and then we slowed down. We were not aggressive. They started winning rebounds and we missed some shots. So that is the most important thing. They are a good team and we let them back in," the 35-year-old veteran said.
France had built a 13-point-lead (40-27) at the eight minute mark in the third quarter. But Belarus fought back to take the lead with a minute to go in the same period (46-45).
Coach Vincent attributed the Belarus third quarter comeback to his team's inexperience.
"We have a young team so we have moments of hesitation when we lose control of the game."
In any case, he was "very happy" and feels his team had "got a good rhythm" to carry his squad forward in the tournament.
For Belarus forward Nataliya Trafimava, this loss hurt."This game will stay with us as a bad dream for quite awhile."