France Top Russia, Win Group F

16.06.2009

Undefeated France handed reigning champions Russia their first loss of the 2009 EuroBasket Women, winning 72-66 to capture first place in the Qualification Round Group F.

Sandrine Gruda poured in 17 points while Celine Dumerc scored 16 points and Isabelle Yacoubou-Dehoui chipped in 12 points off the bench for the 5-0 French, who will face off with Greece in the Quarter-Finals.

"We are really happy to beat this great champion. They are a great country with a lot of tradition," said French coach Pierre Vincent, whose team was out-rebounded 40-27 but committed just nine turnovers while forcing 20 Russian turnovers.

Russia dropped to 4-1 with the loss for second place in the group, and they will take on hosts Latvia in the quarters.

Valeriy Tikhonenko's Russian squad played their first game with American point guard Becky Hammon, who arrived yesterday in Riga and led the Russians with 18 points.

"I thought we got off to a bit of a cold start and were not as focused on defense. And we let their good players start off well and it's difficult to stop good players in a groove," said Hammon.

Maria Stepanova scored 16 points for Russia while Ilona Korstin had 13 points and Svetlana Abrosimova chipped in 11 points and nine rebounds.

"We can't describe the loss as one thing. It was a great game between two great teams. I don't remember one tournament where we would not lose one game. So for use it is kind of a good thing," said Abrosimova.

Russia initially took advantage of their quicker guards as Hammon hit her first shot - a driving lay-up - and Korstin converted to lay-ups as Russia built an 8-5 lead.

It was 14-9 for Russia with the French struggling to find an offensive rhythm. But Yacoubou-Dehoui put back an offensive rebound to start an 11-5 surge which also included Dumerc hitting her second three-ball of the first quarter for a 20-19 France lead.

Dumerc nailed her third triple in three attempts at the buzzer to knot the game at 23-23 after one period.
The French post players got out on the break with Gruda twice scoring before knifing through Stepanova and Irina Osipova for a lay-up and a 29-25 lead.

Hammon drilled a triple to help Russia pull back ahead 31-29. But an unsportsmanlike foul was called on Olga Arteshina and the French scored four points.

Yacoubou-Dehoui then took over with three baskets inside against the lighter Russian bigs and Gruda's break-away lay-up gave France a 41-33 lead.

Hammon however hit a three-ball just before the buzzer for a 41-36 France lead at the break.

Dumerc hit again from long range to start the second half but was answered by Hammon. And Stepanova's three-point play cut the gap to just 44-42.

The Russian offense could not solve the French defense and went scoreless for 7:33 and committed six turnovers. The French however could not execute offensively and led only 48-42. Korstin banked in a three-pointer from half-court at the buzzer to bring Russia within 50-47 after three quarters.

Stepanova's basket made it one-point game - 52-51 - before France scored on five straight possessions, including back-to-back triples by Celine Hermouet and Catherine Melain for a 10-point lead - 63-53.

The reigning champions would not go down without a fight and created two turnovers in scoring seven points in 1:30 to cut the deficit to 65-62 with three minutes to play.

Emilie Gomis made two free throws and then Dumerc made a long jumper with the shot clock winding down for a 69-62 advantage with two minutes left.


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