EUROBASKET WOMEN 2011
Turning Point: After a game which swung back and forth, Sandrine Gruda sparked a run of nine consecutive points in the fourth quarter that gave the French an unassailable lead.
Game Hero: Gruda had a game-high 26 points, six rebounds and four assists on 10-for-12 shooting.
Stats Don't Lie: The French had 20 points off their bench, the Czechs just 5. A sign, perhaps, of fatigue.
Two years after claiming gold, France secured the consolation of bronze at EuroBasket Women with a 63-56 victory over the Czech Republic in Lodz.
Both teams came to Poland with greater ambitions in mind. Both have the consolation of places at next year's Olympic qualification tournament.
Only one, however, will take home a medal.
But it took a late surge for Pierre Vincent's team to earn a souvenir for their efforts this summer.
Gruda began her explosion with 8 points in the first quarter but Les Bleues trailed 20-15 as the Czechs delivered an energetic start.
The forward continued her personal assault in the second to draw the French level but Eva Viteckova was matching her, score for score, and she ignited a 6-0 run which sent her side 30-24 clear at half-time.
The dethroned champions hung on, bidding to retain pride even with the title of Europe's best no longer in their possession.
Marion Laborde hit a three-pointer that tied the game at 36-36 and although Katerina Elhotova responded in kind, the momentum had switched in France's favour.
Jennifer Digbeu drained an open three that put the French in front with 1:45 left in the third quarter and although the Czechs rallied to level again at 47-47 midway through the fourth, their challenge fell away.
Amid a decisive 9-0 burst, Celine Dumerc rose up to fire in a three-pointer with 3:56 left. Czech mate was achieved.
Despite 17 points from Elhotova and 14 from Michala Hartigiva, Lubor Blazek's side had to settle for fourth best.