Villeneuve had the upper hand in the eighth-final of the Coupe de France against Montpellier

Abou N'Diaye

Prior to the second Coupe de France match of the evening in Metz Abou N’Diaye, the Villeneuve d'Ascq coach, was looking relaxed. He spoke about how the match was billed as the final of the competition. He was expecting a tough match with Montpellier because they also had ambitions for winning the cup as well. He also explained that things were looking up result wise. And the French Cup was another means for Villeneuve to get to the top (EuroLeague qualification).

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Valéry DermoryValéry Demory, the coach of Montpellier, also believed that the match would be tough. He was of the opinion that the cup was the cup and that they would do their best to win and not have to return home the next morning.

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From early on in this match there was plenty of movement. Both sides looked for openings to score.

The battle between the big ladies in the middle lived up to its billing as they boxed each other out continuously. When an involuntary contact was made between Sandra Dijon and Géraldine Robert the action looked worse due to the noise from the fans.

The few points scored from open play in the first period were quite spectacular. Such were Robert's points from Villeneuve d'Ascq from lost causes with her "never say die attitude". Meanwhile her team mate Kathy Wambe showed that no place was too small to squeeze through while being at top speed.

Montpellier were more academic in their approach with Dijon giving a master class in the art of post play. In the end Villeneuve's risky approach however allowed them to lead at the end of the first quarter (17-13).

Daley enjoying the second period

Grace DaleyThe start of the second quarter belonged to Grace Daley as she took on the role of a point guard. Daley used her pace and love for one on one to score 4 points within 30 seconds (17-17).

Gunta Basko was making clever runs off the ball. Elodie Bertal showed her safe pair of hands to bury two consecutive jumpers from the top of the key as Montpellier went in front (21-20).

Villeneuve, for the first time in this match looked a little confused. While trying some complicated moves they turned the ball over giving Basko and Katia Manic scoring opportunities (25-20).

Despite Basko’s efforts Robert was still present at both ends of the court causing mayhem to the opponents, which eventually led to Basko picking up her third foul.

In the meantime Shala Crawford and Wambe put Villeneuve back in front (26-25).

Villeneuve looked like they would go into the interval leading. But with 10 seconds left on the game clock Daley ran into Fatimatou Sacko. The official decided that Sacko had moved to cut off Daley and awarded Montpellier two free-throws. Sacko was not amused and made the officials understand that she did not appreciate the call. With her discussion she was then rewarded with a second and technical foul. Daley put in all 4 free-throws taking Montpellier into the lead at the interval (29-26).

Villeneuve changing tactics

With Bénédicte Fombonne and Sacko on three fouls, N'Diaye, Villeneuve's coach, came up with an interesting system for the third period.

They played a flat zone but also managed to apply a player for player marking system. Montpellier just did not seem to have a solution and Villeneuve regained the lead (33-31).

Montpellier's coach called for a time-out. Afterwards his team switched to zone. Yet Villeneuve took only longer to set up scoring opportunities and continued to dominate.

Then Crawford took over from Robert causing trouble in the box while Bintou Diémé was happy to hit shots from distance with Villeneuve opening up a 10-point lead (45-35).

Basko scored 1 of two free-thows before the end of the quarter leaving Villeneuve with only a 9-point advantage (45-36).

Coupe de France tie coming to live in the final quarter

Montpellier decided to become more physical in the duals. They were able to get themselves opportunities to score from the free-throw line with Basko and Manic doing the scoring (40-47).

Fombonne was not having a good game and picked up her fourth foul on Manic. Shortly after she committed her fifth foul at mid-court while trying to stop Daley. Daley hit the free-throws to bring Montpellier within 3 points (44-47).

Aurélie BonnanMontpellier continued to win the one on one battles with Aurélie Bonnan to get to the free-throw line and to score. Daley completed the recovery with a drive to the basket in which she scored and was fouled. She completed the 3-point play to bring the team level (49-49) with just under five minutes to play.

The battle between Robert and Dijon was back on after the calm of the last two quarters. Robert was the first in action as she floated a nice jumper to give Villeneuve the lead briefly. Robert was then to foul Dijon as she attempted to get an offensive rebound. Dijon hit the free-throws and the game was tied once again.

The turning point of the match came about in strange circumstances: Montpellier were moving the ball around the zone with the intention of setting up a shooting opportunity for Basko or Manic. However they passed the ball too many times before feeding it to Dijon who flicked it out to Manic, who was not in position. Manic had to sprint with Wambe to at least stop Wambe from getting the ball as it had now crossed into Montpellier's half. It was a difficult call on the official but they judged that Manic by her action had touched the ball.

Though Villeneuve were unable to score on that action Wambe was to cut off a stray pass by Montpellier. She went all the way up the court with Montpellier unable to stop her. Wambe then calmly fed the ball to Roberts who hit her lay-up to give Villeneuve the lead for good. Afterwards Wambe ended any hope for Montpellier's comeback with a lovely jumper from just behind the free-throw line (57-51). With 40 seconds left Villeneuve went on to win (59-54).

Coupe de France Box Score

Coupe de France after match comments

Abou N'DiayeAbou N’Diaye went into technical details about the victory with a quarter by quarter break down. He was also hoping that they continued playing in the same way for the next match and qualify for the final of the Coupe de France.

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Geraldine Robert and Kathy Wambe

Robert (left in picture) explained that her team mates played with their hearts and that this was the main reason for the victory. She was full of praise for Montpellier and also said that after a difficult start to the season, things were now falling into place.

Wambe (right in picture) added that they defended well, which showed in the closing minutes as they held off Montpellier. She also said that they followed their coaches orders.

You can listen to Robert's Coupe de France comments here:

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You can listen to Wambe's Coupe de France comments here:

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Quarter-final preview

Lattes Montpellier's portraits for the Coupe de France are courtesy of the Ligue Féminine de BasketBall

Date: 23 March 2008

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