By Larry Fine
LONDON (Reuters) - The French women's basketball team roared back from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to overtake the Czech Republic 71-68 and reach the semi-finals of the Olympic tournament on Tuesday.
Led by the inspirational play of point guard Celine Dumerc, France came back after trailing 55-44, taking a 67-65 lead they would not relinquish on a three-pointer by Dumerc with one minute to play and stayed alive in their pursuit for an Olympic medal.
Dumerc finished with 23 points to lead France. Eva Viteckova scored 17 points as top scorer for the Czechs.
France, who had gone 5-0 in preliminary play, advanced to a final four showdown against Russia, who edged Turkey 66-63.
The four-time defending champions United States will play Australia in the other semi-final on Thursday.
The Americans defeated Canada 91-48 to extend their Olympic winning streak to 39 in a row, and Australia were 75-60 winners against China.
The semi-final winners will advance to the gold medal game and the losers will play for the bronze.
The Czechs had used a brilliant scoring outburst from Eva Viteckova to take a 51-41 lead after three quarters. Viteckova, held scoreless in the first half, accounted for 13 points in the quarter.
After Dumerc led France back, she was able to run the finals seconds off the clock and just before the buzzer threw the ball high up in the air and hugged her team mates, all of whom then collapsed to the floor in a group celebration.
(Editing by Jason Neely)
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