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France returns to semifinals with gutsy win over Spain

Despite winning just one game in group play, France women’s basketball proved that it can still perform on the biggest of stages, making clutch plays on both ends of the floor to defeat Spain in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics quarterfinals.

France’s win over Spain marks the country’s third-consecutive semifinals appearance at the Summer Olympics.
Photo by ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images

In a dramatic quarterfinal game that featured a tense, action-packed fourth quarter, France outlasted Spain 67-64 to advance to the Tokyo Olympics women’s basketball semifinals. It will be France’s third-consecutive semifinals appearance in the Summer Olympics; the French last medaled in 2012 when they took home silver.

While France jumped out to an early lead (21-16 after the first quarter and 36-30 at halftime) and led by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter, a valiant Spanish effort made it anyone’s contest during crunch time, during which the teams traded both baskets and miscues in heart-wrenching fashion. Even the French field goal that sealed the deal — a Marine Johannès fadeaway jumper — barely counted, dropping with just 0.1 seconds remaining on the shot clock to put away Spain’s last-ditch comeback attempt.

Ultimately, Spain’s huge advantage in offensive rebounding (17-5) and turnovers forced (19-13) were not enough to offset its cold shooting (34 percent). Astou Ndour-Fall concluded her strong trip to Tokyo with an impressive 16-point, 11-rebound performance, but Spain hit just five 3-pointers and was unable to cash in on several late-game shots at the rim — shots that would have changed the course of the game and possibly the tournament itself.

Instead, France will move on to familiar Olympic territory. Host Japan — fresh off a thrilling quarterfinal victory of its own — awaits. The game is scheduled for Friday at 7 a.m. ET.