Spain went a long way towards redeeming their status as tournament favourites with an impressive display against France on day one of the quarter-final round.
In preliminary round action, Spain looked less than convincing in a tight win over Turkey and loss to Sweden.
France, on the other hand, cruised through their opening three games with easy wins against Belgium, Greece and Lithuania.
Spain did not start well in any of their previous contests, but took the initiative early against France. Alba Torrens drove for a lay-up after the tip and that set the tone for the Spanish who were very aggresive in the opening 10 minutes.
|Laura Herrera |
Tamara Abalde was particularly effective. She scored 10 points and Spain raced to a 21-10 first quarter advantage.
A 6-0 run to open the second quarter put France under even more pressure trailing 10-27. But the French slowly began to respond and some strong play from guard Melanie Plust (7 points in three minutes) ignited a 13-3 run of their own to cut into the deficit and by halftime Spain's lead was 11 points, 39-28.
France were always going to have an uphill battle to get back into the game and so it proved in the second half.
Spain had an answer for everything the French threw at them and the lead never went under five points.
"I think it was the hardest team in the group and we already know them as a physical team that would pressure us," said Spanish forward Laura Herrera who had a game high 19 points.
"But I think that thanks to our defense and rebounding we began to play our game and get through it."
Tamara Abalde had a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds (although she shot just 4/16 from the floor) and Alba Torrens (12) and Anna Carbo (10) also reached double figures.