It’s Les Bleues against the Red, White and Blue after France secured a women’s final match-up with the USA on Saturday night via the semi-finals.

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USA 86-73 Australia

Diana Taurasi and Tina Charles scored 14 points apiece as the USA had to rally from a half-time deficit for the first time at London 2012 to earn a 86-73 triumph over Australia in the women’s basketball semi-final at North Greenwich Arena on Thursday.

The USA advance to the gold medal game for a fifth straight Olympic Games and Taurasi will be one of three USA players going for their third gold medal on Saturday 11 August.

Liz Cambage was a dominant force in the first half, scoring 19 points as the Opals traded narrow leads with their great rivals before a 7-0 run sent them 39-32 ahead.

Their advantage held as the USA trailed 47-43 at halftime, making it the first time the USA had trailed at the break.

But Cambage was then held scoreless when the USA profited from their switch to a zone defence and finally unleashed their array of offensive weapons.

Taurasi scored two threes in quick succession as the USA began the third with an 8-1 run and, although Suzy Batkovic drove the Opals 56-55 ahead with three minutes 58 seconds left, it was the last time they would lead.

Lindsay Whalen hit six points in a row in a 10-3 burst that left the USA 65-59 up heading into the fourth period and they quickly underlined their superiority with a 15-4 burst that left the Australians down and out.

“If you want to win gold in women’s basketball, you know that you have to beat Australia,” said USA head coach Geno Auriemma. “It doesn’t matter if it’s in the gold medal game or the semi-final, you have to beat them. Many people think and say that USA and Australia are the only good teams in women’s basketball, but I hope that my players don’t think that, because this was the semi-final and not the gold medal game.”

 France 81-64 Russia

Edwige Lawson-Wade scored a game-high 18 points off the bench as France booked their first appearance in an Olympic women’s basketball final by defeating Russia 81-64.

The French will play USA for gold in the final on Saturday in what will be a showdown between the tournament’s two undefeated teams.

France’s performances in London suggest they will present an enormous challenge for the defending champions. Once more in the semi-final, the French combination of 52% shooting plus speed and size proved irresistible.

European champions Russia were 8-0 behind after just three minutes as Emilie Gomis sparked an early charge and it provided an indication of what was to follow.

Although Becky Hammon hit a three, which cut the deficit to 12-10, Russia were hit by a 12-5 burst of scoring to end the first quarter, capped by a three from Lawson-Wade, who twice converted from long range early in the second quarter.

After trailing 38-31 at half-time, the Russians rallied as a 7-2 run closed the gap with 6:37 left in the third period. They would never come so close again.

Celine Dumerc scored six of her 11 points in the quarter as the French edged clear, but they saved their most devastating blow for the fourth quarter as Isabelle Yacoubou inspired an 11-0 run that took them 76-56 ahead and broke their rivals for good.

Fittingly, the excellent Dumerc the last word with a three with 26 seconds left as an extended set of celebrations began.

“We only exist when we win, and we have won,” said France coach Pierre Vincent. “We have overcome our problems with energy and hardwork. Today the Russians lack of humility, over-confidence and almost arrogance cost them the game.”

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