France beats Serbia 91-76 for bronze medal in women’s hoops
SAITAMA, Japan (AP) — Gabby Williams led seven players in double figures with 17 points, and France got some payback Saturday by beating Serbia 91-76 for the bronze medal in women’s basketball at the Olympics.
Players hugged and jumped up and down in celebration, though Williams, a star in college at UConn, bent over in tears near midcourt before teammates came over to hug her. Then players grabbed a couple French flags to continue celebrating with even more national pride.
This victory was a long time coming as France snapped a skid against Serbia that included losing both the bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Games and the EuroBasket final in June. Now France will have a medal to defend at the 2024 Paris Games.
The Serbians slumped over in disappointment, unable to hold back the tears as one player shielded a teammate by covering her head with a towel.
Endene Miyem scored 16 points, Sandrine Gruda had 14, Marine Fauthoux added 12 and Alix Duchet, Alexia Chartereau and Marine Johannes each finished with 10 for France.
Yvonne Anderson, an American who obtained dual citizenship to play in the Tokyo Games, led Serbia with a game-high 24 points. Jelena Brooks added 14.
These teams both played Friday in the semifinals, though France had the shorter turnaround taking on Serbia only 18 hours after losing to Japan. Serbia lost to the U.S. with several starters getting a chance to rest in the second half with the Americans in control.
Serbia capped its first appearance in the Olympics in 2016 at the Rio Games by beating France to take home the bronze.
France’s best finish in women’s Olympic hoops was at the 2012 London Games, winning silver. The French squad was more tired of losing to Serbia with a medal or title on the line than they were by the quick turnaround from the semifinals.
The Serbians not only beat France for the EuroBasket title at the end of June, they also beat France in the 2015 EuroBasket final. France’s lone win against Serbia in recent year came in group play at the 2017 EuroBasket tournament.
The Serbians turned up the defensive pressure early and Brooks capped a 9-0 run with a steal that Anderson finished off with an easy layup for a 19-14 lead.
Serbia led 23-19 after the first quarter but France was up 43-40 at halftime.
France extended its lead to 67-56 at the end of three quarters and pushed it to 19. But Serbia tried to rally, scoring 12 straight, to get within 78-71 with 3:38 left. But Alex Duchet hit a layup with 3:14 to go, and France finished off the win.
With the bronze medal secured, the celebration began.
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