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US and France to meet in Olympic final
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LONDON (AP) — Four-time defending champion United States stifled Australia's offense and shut down its towering center Liz Cambage in the second half for a 86-73 win, advancing to the final of the women's Olympic basketball tournament.

The U.S. team played and beat Australia for the last three gold medals, but this time it will face France, which made the final in only its second Olympic appearance.

Edwige Lawson-Wade scored 18 points and Emilie Gomis added 15 to help France beat Russia 81-64 in the other semifinal Thursday.

France, like the U.S. the only unbeaten team, is assured of winning its first medal in women's basketball with the semifinals win.

Celine Dumerc continued her stellar play for France. The captain finished with 11 points against Russia and has hit several clutch shots for the French during their impressive Olympic tournament run.

"We had some hope before. It's huge, to get into final for first time," Dumerc said, "We made a great really great game against a very difficult team. They play really hard and fast and we succeeded to win."

Becky Hammon scored 13 points to lead Russia, which will play Australia for the bronze medal.

"They are a very good team, they are playing very well right now, playing very confidently. We just didn't have enough offensive fire power.

They worked us over, there's not much to say. They pretty much hurt us everywhere you possibly can," said the American-born guard who is a naturalized Russian citizen.

"We've been struggling all tournament with our shots. We have good shooters but we have to make them when the lights come on."

Tina Charles and Diana Taurasi scored 14 points each for the Americans, who have won 40 consecutive Olympic contests dating back to the bronze medal game in 1992.

The Americans, who had cruised through their first six Olympic matches, were challenged by the Australians and their 2.03-meter (6-foot-8) center Cambage, who scored 19 points in the first half and helped her team take a 47-43 lead after two periods.

But she was held scoreless after the break and the U.S. stepped up defensive pressure in a decisive 16-6 scoring run in the third.

Australia and the U.S. had met in the previous three gold medal games.

"We knew before that to win the gold you have to beat Australia whether it's in the semifinal or the finals," U.S. coach Geno Auriemma said.

Auriemma turned to his Olympic rookies to lead the way in the third.

The group — led by Tina Charles and Lindsay Whalen — pressured Australia into turnovers and bad shots, helping the U.S. reach the title game for the fifth straight time.

"We came out in the second half and once we got control of the game, it took off from there," Auriemma said. "It just illustrates it's only one night. If you have a great night and the U.S. has a poor shooting night or defensive night there goes the tournament."

Australia didn't have a great night, but they had a great half.

Sue Bird said stopping Cambage was the first of many things the Americans talked about during the break.

"Not letting her get deep," Bird said was the priority. The U.S point guard added that the strategy was to jam Cambage when she was running the floor and prevent her from getting low-post position.

"She is a big girl, when she gets you sealed on her back that low, what are you going to do?" Bird said. "It's almost impossible to stop her."

The second half was a different story for Cambage.

"They shut us down" in the third, Cambage said. "I know I backed down in the third. I put a lot on me."

Bird said the U.S. turned the game around with its depth.

"They're not rookies," Bird said of her first-time Olympic teammates. "These aren't 21-year-old kids who have never played international basketball. Once again that is where our advantage lies."

Lauren Jackson finished with 14 points for Australia.

"We didn't adjust (in the second half), we had too many turnovers," said Jackson, who played on the previous three Australian teams that lost gold medal games against the Americans. "But we can still play for a medal. We can go with our heads up. They are better and deeper, my heart is not broken."