Russia beat France 65-57 to take top honours in Group F of the Qualifying Round at the U18 European Championship for Women.
The result means that Russia face the Czech Republic in one semi-final on Saturday while France - who were handed their first loss in this competition - take on unbeaten Lithuania in the other.
"This is a very important result for us," sad Sergey Fedorenkov, Russia's head of delegation. "We were relieved to see that Spain beat Sweden earlier in the day to help secure our place in the semi-finals. So we came into this game with no real pressure and a positive attitude. It all made for a good day really."
|Diandra Tchatchouang had 18 points for France in the loss.|
Russia outscored France 20-14 in the third quarter, at one point running off 10 unanswered points, to take a 51-43 lead. After jumping in front for the first time on an Anastasiya Shilova three-pointer, they never trailed again.
After the game, France head coach Gregory Hanin admitted that his team may have become a bit lax in the second half.
"We made some mental mistakes and there were breakdowns that allowed them (Russia) to get back into the game. Once they were able to cut the deficit and tie the game, it gave them a lot of confidence and they fed off of that the rest of the way," he said.
"We know what we did wrong and now we will look to make the right adjustments ahead of our game against Lithuania on Saturday. It's obviously a hard loss to deal with but we still have a semi-final to play so we're keeping things in perspective."
France jumped in front and took a 13-8 lead on a pair of free-throws by Allison Vernerey just past the halfway point of the opening quarter.
They extended that advantage to 19-12 on a basket by Pauline Thizy with 1:27 left in the first period.
Russia though came back strong and made it a one-point game, 21-20, on a three-pointer by Anastasia Kolotil'shchikova early in the second quarter.
The French reacted immediately by using a 9-0 run to take their first double-digit lead of the game, 33-23. However, their hard work on offense was undone as they sent the Russians to the free-throw line and the latter were only too happy to oblige and narrowed the gap to just two, 35-33, at the half.
Russia really found their stride in the middle of the third quarter as Shilova went on a personal 8-0 run to turn a 43-41 deficit into a 49-43 advantage.
Les Bleus were within four, 51-47, when Alexia Plagnard made a pair of free-throws with 1:26 left in the quarter, but that is as close as they got.
France were outscored 32-22 in the second half and had their troubles trying to guard 2.03m centre Liubob Paskalenko who had her best game with the national side, recording 13 points and nine rebounds. Shilova finished with 12 points.
Diandra Tchatchouang had a team-high 18 points for France while Vernerey added nine points and nine rebounds.