LONDON — French coach Pierre Vincent wants to keep his team grounded.
It may be hard to after France pulled off one of the biggest wins in team history, shocking Australia in the Olympic women’s basketball tournament.
Emilie Gomis scored all 22 of her points after halftime and France beat Australia 74-70 in overtime Monday.
“I told them in the locker room we still need to win one more game to qualify for the next round,” Vincent said. “We haven’t won by that much and have to play Canada, Brazil and Russia still. We didn’t win a medal with this victory.”
While France hasn’t clinched a spot in the quarterfinals yet, beating the No. 2 team in the world certainly puts them in a good position to advance.
“It’s a big win because no other team than the Americans has beaten Australia since I don’t know how long, 1996?” Gomis said. “But this win gives us nothing right now. Tomorrow is another day, all the teams are tough to play and we are not going to take off now.”
Gomis’ history is correct — no team other than the U.S. has beaten Australia in the Olympics since Ukraine in 1996.
“It’s a big, big win,” French captain Celine Dumerc said. “It’s not easy at the Olympics to beat Australia, they won a medal.”
France (2-0) has been on the rise in women’s basketball lately. The French won the European Championship in 2009 and qualified for the Olympics for only the third time. Now they can add a victory over the three-time defending Olympic silver medalists to their growing resume.
France didn’t make it easy on themselves, failing to put the game away in the final minute of regulation.
Australia (1-1) capitalized on France’s miscues.
France’s Isabelle Yacoubou had a chance to seal the victory in regulation, but missed the second of two free throws with 3 seconds left. Australia trailed 65-62 and with time expiring, Belinda Snell banked in a 3-pointer from just past halfcourt to send the game to overtime and whip the crowd into a frenzy.
The Aussies, however, had to play the extra session without Seattle Storm star Lauren Jackson and Liz Cambage — both had fouled out.
The two teams met in an exhibition game just before the Olympic competition began and France came away with a six-point victory. Jackson and Suzy Batkovic didn’t play in that contest, but having them back didn’t make a difference in the outcome on Monday.
Batkovic led Australia with 17 points and Jackson added 13 before fouling out.
“We’ll regroup, but we need to come away with wins,” Jackson said. “It definitely was an exciting game for the spectators.”
Trailing 61-59 with 1:43 left in the fourth quarter, Dumerc hit a 3-pointer. Sandrine Gruda extended the lead to three with a lay-in with 47 seconds left.
France just couldn’t put Australia away. After Snell missed a 3-pointer that would have tied it, Gomis missed a wide-open layup on the other end.
Snell was fouled on the ensuing rebound. She made the first free throw before missing the second on purpose.
France corralled the rebound, but then Yacoubou’s missed free throw set up Snell’s thrilling shot.
“I probably hit a few of those messing around with mates but none this big,” Snell said. “The game was a rollercoaster ride and we just came up short.”
Australia was hoping this would be its chance to get that elusive gold medal. The team spent the last three months training together as Jackson missed the first part of the WNBA season to work with her teammates. Australia may be hard-pressed to get over the top this time without Penny Taylor, who is missing the Olympics after she tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee in early April.
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