BY the final minutes of the Australia’s women’s basketball battle with France the Opals needed a heave and a prayer.
They got the heave, in the form of an astonishing half-court buzzer beater from Belinda Snell to force overtime but with talls Lauren Jackson and Liz Cambage fouled out, the Opals fell short losing 74-70 to France in their second group game of the London Olympics this morning.
The overtime victory was a major upset and raises questions about the Opals' rebounding and defensive and offensive execution as the French repeatedly created open shots, grabbed way too many offensive rebounds and forced uncharacteristic turnovers from the Australians.
The French played the game of their Olympic lives led by Emilie Gomis (22 points) and left-hander Celine Dumerc (13 points) scoring from all parts of the court and in fairness, if Gomis hadn’t missed a wide open layup in the final seconds her side would have won in regulation.
Mt Eliza’s Cambage - a former Western Port Basketball Association player - took a tough bump to the cheek during the match and sported a bruised lump below her eye for the second half, scoring 12 points before fouling out in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.
Veteran centre Suzy Batkovic led the Opals with 17 points.
Dandenong Rangers guard Jenna O’Hea played major minutes for the Opals and notched up five assists.
The loss is a setback for the Opals but they could still finish high-up in their group and avoid a cross-over clash with Team USA if they win their remaining matches.
The Opals next match is against Brazil on Wednesday at 11.30pm Melbourne time.