France advanced to the quarter-finals of the 2007 EuroBasket Women with a hard-fought 68-60 victory over Serbia in the final game of the qualifying round.
Sandrine Gruda scored 16 points and Emilie Gomis added 14 points off the bench for the French, who finished 3-2 for third place in Group F, setting up a final eight showdown with Latvia.
|The French defense harassed Serbia into 23 turnovers.|
The French, who survived an 0-for-10 shooting night from three-point range, used a 15-4 third-quarter run to take over the momentum and didn't allow the Serbs to come back in the fourth quarter.
“We started well, but France is a very, very good team. We just couldn't match them today,” said Serb playmaker Maja Milijkovic, whose team finished 1-4 in Group F and failed to qualify for the quarters despite being the only team to beat the mighty Russians so far.
“Of course we're disappointed about going home so early. But we are a very young team and we hope that in 2009 we'll be able to use the experience we gained for better results there.”
Ivana Grubor paced the Serbs with 17 points with Ana Perovic adding 12 points and Marina Puskar chipping in 11 points.
Serbia started very well especially defensively and pulled ahead 10-3 early.
A second three-pointer by Grubor left the young Serbs up 21-12 but France trailed only 23-18 after 10 minutes.
Another Grubor basket began the second quarter before France reeled off an 11-0 run to grab a 29-25 advantage midway through the period.
A Perovic hook shot stopped the bleeding and Serbia played even the rest of the half, trailing 37-34 at the break.
Jovica Antonic's Serbs were still in the game, 41-40 on Puskar's basket with eight minutes to go in the third. But the French turned up their defense and closed the quarter on a 15-4 spurt to lead 56-47 going into the fourth.
The third period however was marred by a head-to-head collision midway through the period between Miljana Musovic and Audrey Sauret-Gillespie, the latter of which had to be carried off the court by the French medical staff but did return to the bench late in the game after getting three stitches.
Serbia tried to fight back into the game in the fourth, but Gruda buried two big jumpers and Sandra Le Drean's basket gave Les Bleus an 11-point lead 62-51. Jacques Commeres's team would not let Serbia closer than eight points the rest of the way.