France staged a terrific fourth quarter fightback but Russia, who got 19 points and seven rebounds from Maria Stepanova, held on to win 63-59 on the second day of Group C action at the EuroBasket Women.
With Russia in command and leading 47-30 almost six minutes into the second half, Les Bleues looked dead and buried.
|Sandrine Gruda had only six points in the loss.|
A Gomis lay-up cut the deficit to 56-55 with 4:00 remaining, only for Oxana Rakhmatulina to reply with a drive to the basket at the other end.
Gomis, who went in strong for another lay-up to take her points haul to a team-high 16 and make it 58-57 with 3:15 remaining, again put the pressure on Igor Grudin’s team.
But Rakhmatulina, possibly the most unsung of the Russian players in recent international tournaments, again had an answer.
This time, with the shot clock down to just two seconds, the point guard buried a three-pointer to make it 61-57.
When play resumed, Natalia Vodopyanova stole the ball from Isabelle Yacoubou and Russia had possession.
Nevertheless, France got the ball back and Sandrine Gruda made a pair of free throws to reduce the lead to 61-59 with 1:12 remaining.
But Russia held their nerve with Vodopyanova going in for a lay-up.
They would end up winning by four.
“The shot (three-pointer) by Oxana was the play of the game,” said Russian forward Svetlana Abrosimova.
Rakhmatulina finished with 12 points on four of seven shooting.
“We’re not surprised France were able to come back,” Abrosimova added. “They did that last year in Brazil against us.”
France coach Jacques Commeres took no consolation in the way his time fought back, however.
“When we lose a game, it’s always hard to talk about the positive side of a game,” he said.
“We understand that the players fight a lot and give a lot, but we can’t come out of a loss and just think about positive things.”
France now take on Italy in a battle for second place in Group C.
“The most important thing for us is tomorrow,” Commeres added.