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6 Sue Bird (USA)
Game Report

USA overcome feisty France to set up Olympic Final showdown with Spain

RIO DE JANEIRO (Rio 2016 Olympic Games) - The USA remain on course to win a sixth consecutive gold medal in the Women's Olympic Basketball Tournament after seeing off France, 86-67, in Thursday's second Semi-Final at Carioca Arena 1.

The five-time defending champions will face Spain in Saturday's Gold Medal Game. This will be a re-match of the 2014 FIBA Women's World Championship's Final, which the USA won 77-64.  France will square off against Serbia in the Bronze Medal Game.

Les Bleues fought bravely and kept the game close in the first half. However, the Americans pulled away in the third quarter, proving too much to handle down in the paint and holding off a late rally by the French to take a convincing win. 

Isabelle Yacoubou put France up 9-6 before Sylvia Fowles came off the bench and provided instant offense as the USA ended the first quarter on top 19-15.

The Americans pulled away at the start of the second period, taking the first double-digit lead of the night, 32-22, on Seimone Augustus' basket. France's substitutes stepped up as Marine Johannes hit a pair of three-pointers and Marielle Amant scoring four points, including a first-half buzzer-beating lay-up that got the French within 40-36 at the break. 

The USA blew the game wide open in the third quarter by outscoring their opponents 25-8. Diana Taurasi knocked down a pair of three-pointers, while Brittney Griner and Fowles proved unstoppable down low as they scored at will around the basket.

France went on a 23-13 run in the fourth quarter to get within 78-67 on Endy Miyem's lay-up with 2:21 left to play but Maya Moore answered right back by connecting from beyond the arc and the USA kept the French scoreless the rest of the way.  

Turning Point: Fowles put the USA up 56-43 with just under 4 minutes to play in the third quarter. On the next trip down the court, she scored inside again and hit a free-throw for a three-point play. It exposed the French's inability to deny the Americans down low. 

Stats Don't Lie: The USA out-rebounded France 43-29, grabbing an impressive 17 boards on the offensive end.

Hero: Fowles had 12 points and a game-high 9 rebounds in just under 19 minutes. Taurasi led all players in scoring with 18 points, to go with 5 rebounds and 4 assists. 

The Bottom Line: France gave the USA their toughest game of the competition so far. It remains to be seen if Spain can do even better on Saturday. 

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