GB WOMEN LEAVE FRENCH FEELING BLEUE

Great Britain’s women bounced back to defeat France 74-67 in Sheffield in the final game of the Standard Life Game on tournament.

Tom Maher’s side, inspired by Nat Stafford, produced an astonishing final quarter surge to stun a side tipped by many to win an Olympic medal.

“Two years ago,” said the Australian, “nobody in basketball would have said there was a snowflake in hell’s chance of that.”

He was right. But it is a measure of how far GB have come this summer that expectations have been raised immeasurably.

There was little to choose from in the opening minutes as the teams traded baskets. Julie Page scored a couple of key baskets for GB, including one off a great pass from Kim Butler, as GB built themselves a 14-11 lead.

However, France responded with a 7-0 run over the final 90 seconds to take an 18-14 lead at the end of the first.

France extended their lead early in second to 24-14, but then Great Britain fought their way back into the game.

Stafford’s drive to basket sparked a 16-6 run that ensured GB went into the break tied 30-30.

A tremendous third quarter saw the lead change hands a number of times as both teams fought to take control of the game.

Stef Collins hit a pair of free-throws to give GB a 39-38 lead, and although France responded with a 7-0 run, GB again fought back with Jeneya Wade-Fray exciting the Ponds Forge crowd as she nailed a three-pointer from mid-court to beat the buzzer.

GB entered the fourth quarter down 48-46, but they came out with tremendous energy and quickly got back in front.

Stafford had a quarter to remember as she scored 11 of her 18 points in the last ten minutes as GB began to pull away.

France made a late charge but with Jo Leedham hitting a game-high 23 points, the home side held on for a deserved win.

“I think it gave us a lot of momentum going into the last quarter,” Wade-Fray said.

“That shot boosted our confidence a little bit and everybody got a bit excited about it. It’s a great win for us.”

Australia won the tournament with a perfect three wins out of three, beating Angola 70-46.

Updates here.

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