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Super Spain romp to gold!
PRAGUE (FIBA EuroBasket Women 2017) - Spain’s brilliant defense controlled the Final to secure glorious gold with an emphatic 71-55 win over France.
FIBA EuroBasket Women 2017 MVP Alba Torrens scored 10 points in the opening period alone to help Spain to establish an early lead that they never relinquished.
She was ably assisted by Sancho Lyttle, who claimed MVP honors when Spain last took gold in 2013. The powerful forward, supported well inside by Laura Nicholls, made sure that France could not get anything easy in the paint, with the French offense undergoing lengthy scoring droughts in the second and third quarter as Spain pulled away.
Torrens finished with 18 points, Lyttle added 19, 8 boards and 4 steals, and Anna Cruz chipped in with 12 points and 5 assists. Celine Dumerc led France with 15 points in her last game for the national team, which endured the heartbreak of a third a consecutive Final loss at FIBA EuroBasket Women.
After the early exchanges, Spain took control with six unanswered points, leading to an early timeout for French coach Valerie Garnier. Marine Johannes connected from outside and Olivia Epoupa made a tough lay-up plus the foul to keep France in touch, but Torrens hit a deep three at the end of opening period to stay on top.
Lyttle's baseline jumper extended Spain's lead to eight early in the second period, prompting Garnier to call another timeout. But they were getting no change out of Lyttle and Nicholls down low, and a drought of more than four minutes saw Spain's lead swell to 12 before Dumerc connected from behind the arc to stop the rot.
A mini-revival was ended by Lyttle's powerful move inside, before Johannes blocked Silvia Dominguez on a drive only for the playmaker to recover the ball and take it straight back in with a gorgeous reverse lay-up past Endene Miyem. Lyttle's jumper from the top of the key in the dying seconds of the half gave Spain a nine-point lead heading into the locker room.
France's attempts to come back into the game were complicated early in the second half, with Helena Ciak picking up two early fouls to give her four overall. Torrens, who had been held scoreless in the second quarter, got back into the groove quickly in the third period, nailing a mid-range jumper from the wing as the Spanish lead swelled to double digits.
Lyttle was fantastic on defense as France wilted under pressure, going without a made field goal for more than five minutes. Their own high-octane defense managed to keep the difference down to 17 before Miyem broke the drought with a jumper, but the damage was done.
Laia Palau, also playing at FIBA EuroBasket Women for the last time, hit a twisting jumper at the end of the third period to keep Spain's lead at 16 heading into the fourth quarter, and it was too much for France to overcome in the face of Spain's unrelenting defense.