Australia guard Katie-Rae Ebzery, rear, is fouled by France guard Olivia Epoupa during the second half of a game Tuesday at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Australia defeated France 89-71. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Losing a point guard before the Olympics is a bit like losing a quarterback before the NFL playoffs. Olivia Epoupa is doing her best at replacing Celine Dumerc for France.
Actually, Epoupa is doing more than just stepping in at the last minute.
Epoupa went from the bench to starting point guard when Dumerc injured her left ankle last week in practice, scratching the guard who helped France win the silver medal in the 2012 Games from the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. Epoupa, 22, has started the first three games of group play for France, and she has led the French in scoring in two straight games.
The 22-year-old guard turned in her best game yet Tuesday in an 89-71 loss to Australia. Epoupa scored a team-high 15 points, scrapped for seven rebounds and also came up with seven steals. She also led France in scoring with 16 points in a win over Belarus.
Teammate Sarah Michel says Epoupa is a really good defender who can both pass and score. The challenge for Epoupa is the quick change in mindset of going from the bench to both starting and guiding the French offense.
:"We really need her for all the competition,'' Michel said.
Epoupa (22) and Belarus guard Lindsey Harding (12) chase the loose ball during a game Aug. 7 at the 2016 Summer Olympics. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)