There was to be no revenge for France on Friday in Ankara at EuroBasket Women.
The French were looking to avenge their 2003 quarter-final EuroBasket Women loss to Russia, but came up short as Russia posted a well deserved 56-70 victory.
After a close first 30 minutes Russia's dominance on the boards began to tell in the final period.
Emmeline Ndongue tied the scores at 48-48 with a lay-up to open the quarter, but a quick bucket from 204 cm Russian center Maria Stepanova gave her side the lead and sparked a 22-10 run to close the game and seal the win.
|Stepanova will be in serious contention for MVP honours |
Stepanova was the undoubted star and she scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in another dominant performance. Stepanova scored 6 points in a key 12-4 fourth quarter run for Russia, which saw them open a 52-60 lead with 5 minutes to play.
Olga Arteshina also provided a major boost on offense (despite picking up 3 fouls in the first quarter), tallying 15 points on 6/7 shooting, including 3/3 three-pointers.
France struggled early on and fell behind 10-17 in the first quarter. But they rallied back and even led by as many as 6 points in the second period.
The French matched Russia basket for basket in the third and were right in contention, but they wilted in the fourth period against the tough Russian defense.
France shot 3/11 in the final ten minutes while Russia hit 9/12.
For the game, Russia outrebounded France 39-26.
Russia are still on course to repeat as champions, a feat which no team has achieved since the Soviet Union won their 17th consecutive (and final) European title in 1991.
France will be looking to overcome their dissapointment by grabbing the final qualifying spot for the 2006 World Championship in Brazil.