London Day Three: Opals Fall Despite Miracle

Kevin Pelton, | July 30, 2012

A miraculous finish to regulation wasn't enough for the Australian Opals to avoid their first loss in Olympic group play since 1996. Down three with time running out in the fourth quarter, Australia's Belinda Snell fired from beyond half court and made the shot to force overtime. The Opals celebrated Snell's shot, but had to quickly regroup for overtime without star posts Liz Cambage and Lauren Jackson, both of whom fouled out in regulation. Without them, Australia was scoreless in the final 1:56 as France pulled away for a 74-70 win.

In the matchup of two of the top challengers in Group B, neither side could consistently establish an offensive flow. Australia shot just 38.7 percent from the field while France was less accurate at 35.3 percent. But France's advantages from beyond the arc (the Opals made just four three-pointers in 19 attempts, including Snell's prayer) and on the glass proved decisive.

Lauren Jackson on the Australia bench.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images Sports

Jackson could only watch from the bench as her team fell to France in overtime.

Foul trouble limited Jackson to 25 minutes, during which she had 13 points and six rebounds. Cambage played just 21 minutes, finishing with 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting and three boards. In their stead, veteran Suzy Batkovic stepped up to record a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds. But Jenna O'Hea (10) was the only other Aussie to reach double figures.

Aside from the game-tying shot, Snell struggled on offense. She shot just 2-of-14 from the field, missing all eight of her tries from inside the arc.

France got 22 points from Emilie Gomis, who shot 8 of 12 from the field and knocked down both attempts from beyond the arc. Gomis led five French players in double figures. Celine Dumerc scored 13 points and posts Sandrine Gruda (11 points, six boards) and Isabelle Yacoubou (10 points, seven rebounds) gave France an advantage on the glass.

The win sets up France as the favorite in Group B. Russia, 2-0 through the first two games, will also have a say in the outcome of the group. The difference between first and second is crucial because, if seeds hold, the second-place team in Group B would face the USA in the semifinals rather than delaying a potential matchup until the final, as Australia has in each of the last three Olympics.

FRANCE 74, AUSTRALIA 70 (OT): Box Score

USA 90, ANGOLA 38: Box Score

The USA women's basketball team cruised to victory against an overmatched Angola squad in its second game of the 2012 Olympics. Any drama was taken out of the game when the USA dominated the second quarter, outscoring Angola 19-6 to push its lead to 23 points at halftime en route to a 52-point final margin.

The painted area belonged to the USA, which made nearly 70 percent of its two-point attempts and shot 54.5 percent from the field despite an off night from beyond the arc (two makes in 17 attempts). Angola made just 19.7 percent of its shot attempts and had three assists all game.

Candace Parker starred for the U.S. women, finishing with a double-double (14 points, 12 rebounds) and setting an American Olympic record with four of the team's 11 blocked shots. (Tamika Catchings and Tina Charles also had two apiece.) Seimone Augustus scored 13 and Maya Moore (11) and Angel McCoughtry (10) reached double figures as all 12 USA players scored.

Storm point guard Sue Bird handed out a game-high five assists and scored four points in 26 minutes. With 10 assists, Bird is second among all players in Olympic competition thus far.

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