Villeneuve making Coupe de France final qualification look easy
The Coupe de France semi-final match between Saint Jacques Sport Reims and Villeneuve d’Ascq did not live up to its billing. Villeneuve’s dominance in the first half of the match allowed their coach the luxury of turning his bench more frequently in the second half of the match.
The final score line (65-35) in favour of Villeneuve d’Ascq does not tell the full story of the event of this match.
90 minutes before the match tipped off Géraldine Robert was already into her preparation for the match. By the time the rest of her team mates joined her you could see she was ready for the match. Bénédicte Fombonne was also another player from Villeneuve who was in deep concentration during her pre-match preparation.
The players from Villeneuve gave the impression of being relaxed and you could see that they wanted the pre-match protocol to end quickly. In contrast the players from Reims appeared tense and their match routine was more mechanical than fluid.
When the game finally started, Reims won the tip-off but uncharacteristically messed up their first attack. Villeneuve then went on the attack and although they missed their first attempt they kept hold of the ball.
Robert then set the tone of the match as she received the ball in the paint. She bumped her first marker who fell down and bumped the second marker before putting the ball in the basket. This was the first warning for Reims. Afterwards Robert was to send a diagonal pass right into the hands of Shala Crawford who subsequently scored (4-0). The smile and the wink from Crawford said it all.
The game was less than four minutes old and Reims had already 4 team fouls and no points on the scoreboard. Their strength this season has been the ability to hit shots from the outside but in this match nothing worked.
Villeneuve applied a very simple system with Kathy Wambe and Robert watching Anne-Marie Parau and Mia Fisher while Crawford and Fatimatou Sacko did not allow anything to happen inside. This left Fombonne with the task of watching Zuzanna Klimesova.
Villeneuve kept the ball moving and were leading (11-0). The point count could have been higher if they had connected with their free-throws.
Klimesova finally ended Reims’ misery after almost eight minutes with a nice jump in between two players in the paint. She was then on hand once again to deliver the perfect pass for Anne-Sophie Pagnier to score (4-12). There was also Manon Sinico (left) who was having a good game but was unlucky with her reverse lay-up. Yet Sinico was to score at the period buzzer as she completed a fast break and managed a lay-up before being not very ceremonially dumped to the floor (no foul called).
Villeneuve continued to score at will from the field and were leading by 14 points at one stage. At (18-6) they had only managed to hit 2 from 8 though from the charity stripes. Reims on the other hand were 3-of-14 from the field and 0 from 2 from the charity stripes.
Fombonne and Wambe's return to Coupe de France final
Sacko, a player that people tend to forget about, went about her work at both ends of the court with enthusiasm but did not show as much emotion as some of her team mates. However her contribution this weekend made her the MVP of the Metz group of the coup de France weekend. She and Luba Drljaca had scored 11 points in this quarter.
In the second period Fombonne (left) started the scoring by intercepting a poor pass from Marie-Laure Fleury-Kindoki. Quickly afterwards Sinico scored for Reims as she fought her way into the box.
Then Villeneuve scored 10 unanswered points before Sinico scored again for Reims (10-32). With 14 seconds remaining in the first half and with nothing offensively on for Villeneuve, a comedy of errors by Reims allowed Sacko to get the ball and draw a foul while shooting. Although she missed her shot she hit the second free-throw. Reims then threw the ball in but Kathy Wambe reacted quicker than the player from Reims, got the ball and scored (33-10).
18 seconds into the third period (with already 12 team fouls compared to 10 points for Reims) Phillipe Sauret picked up a technical for his continuous dialogue with the officials.
After that incident Klimesova, (left) a player that does not have the word defeat in her vocabulary, single-handedly tried to bring Reims back in the game as she hit two three-pointers as her side went on a 12-2 run (22-35).
Abou N’Diaye called for a time-out immediately and explained to his players that the game was not over yet and that they should get back to work. His players responded immediately to hit 6 straight points and ended the resistance of Reims. Villeneuve went into the final period leading (45-24).
Villeneuve securing second Coupe de France final qualification
Pagnier’s final period lasted 61 seconds before picking up her fifth personal foul when she reached in on Wambe.
Bintou Diémé was charged with the responsibility of keeping Villeneuve’s young guard in check by not allowing their opponents back into the game. She scored 7 of her 9 points during that period. However Reims had nothing more to give and Sauret just turned his bench as the game played out.
With three minutes left in the game Princesse Goubo made her entry into the game and received the largest cheer of the day from the travelling supporters. Goubo was to score the very last point of the game after another Reims’ turnover.
She and Amélie Fresnais sprinted down the court after a loos ball. Fresnais is quick and Goubo showed a good turn of pace. Yet Fresnais had no right to touch the ball in her half of the court, so Goubou got to the ball first. But she was bumped by Fresnais while shooting and missed. Yet she hit the second free-throw to the satisfaction of the supporters (65-35).
Villeneuve’s qualification will make them meet Bourges Basket in the final on the 18th May and contest the rights for the Joe Jaunay trophy. Villeneuve will play Reims again on Wednesday evening for the 21st round of the LFB regular season.
Coupe de France semi-final after match comments
Sauret was disappointed in the way his team lost and not about being defeated. He expected more from his key players but as they failed to show up, he left the work to his young players.
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N'Diaye's only comment about the Coupe de France match was about the slight drop in intensity at the start of the second half as Reims attempted to come back. He was pleased though with the team performance, match after match and the team spirit.
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Kathy Wambe was also pleased that Villeneuve remained solid for the rest of the match and that once again the defence did the job. A little warning in the third period when Reims hit back made them recover quickly and that was that. She also said the final of the Coupe de France against Bourges will be after all a basketball match and that anything could happen on the court.