Olympics: French rip Russia to reach final with USA

Unbeaten France advanced to the Olympic women's basketball final by defeating reigning European champions Russia 81-64 on Thursday, booking a championship showdown against the United States dynasty.

The French, whose best prior Olympic women's basketball finish was fifth in 2000, will play for gold on Saturday against the Americans, who beat Australia 86-73 in the other semi-final. The Russians will play the Aussies for bronze.

Four days after beating Russia in a group match, France seized command early despite two early fouls that kept French captain and Olympic scoring leader Celine Dumerc on the bench much of the first half.

Becky Hammon hit a 3-pointer to pull Russia within 12-10 but France answered with a 17-5 run as balanced scoring powered the French to a 29-15 lead three minutes into the second quarter.

US-born Hammon, naturalized as a Russian citizen in 2008 in time to help her new homeland claim a second consecutive Olympic bronze at Beijing, helped Russia close the first half on a 16-9 run to trail only 38-31 at half-time.

The Russians, who never led, came within 42-40 by opening the third quarter with a 9-2 run but France's stayed in front and Dumerc came off the bench to sink a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer to put France ahead 59-51.

Dumerc's basket launched a 20-5 French run that sealed Russia's fate.

Edwige Lawson-Wade scored a game-high 18 points while Emilie Gomis added 15 for France. Hammon and Alena Danilochkina each had 13 to lead Russia.

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