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US Beats France 86-67, Advances to Women’s Basketball Final

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The U.S. will be playing for a sixth consecutive gold medal in women’s basketball after beating France 86-67, the closest contest of the Rio Games for the Americans.

Diana Taurasi scored 18 points as the U.S. won Thursday night without the services of Sue Bird. The U.S. turned up its defense to make up for not being as crisp offensively after routing opponents by an average of 41.7 points.

The Americans, who won their 48th straight game, will play Spain in the final Saturday.

Bird, the Americans starting point guard and team captain, was sidelined with a sprained right knee. The U.S. led only 40-36 at halftime but outscored France 25-8 in the decisive third quarter to finally get some separation from the team that they beat in the 2012 gold medal game.

France will play Serbia for bronze.

Reserve Marine Johannes led France with 13 points.