Great Britain emerged from the most heart wrenching of losses with a sense of pride amid the disappointment on Friday night.
Britain went down 80-77 in overtime to world number eight France, beaten by a pair of dramatic three-pointers from France captain Celine Dumerc. The first tied the game with six seconds left in regulation to force the extra period. The second won it for Les Bleus with less than one second on the clock in overtime.
The British players were left struggling for words immediately after the stunning finish to the game, which saw France come from 76-72 down in the extra period. "Gutted," guard Stef Collins said of her reaction. "But these games are just proving that we belong here. We have worked incredibly hard and I am proud of how we battled."
Questions of experience and composure have surrounded the team all week as they have come close to pulling off victories but then let it slip away at the end. In that sense, Friday night's game and the way in which France won it seemed a step forward even if the result was still the same.
"We could have won the game," said coach Tom Maher. "Probably we got our just desserts in the other games but we could have won this one. Hopefully that's building up to us actually winning, and we're going to try and beat Brazil on Sunday."
Dumerc's ability from range is well known, but last night she only made two three-pointers. The problem for Britain is that both were like daggers in their side.
"I have never done it before, at least not twice in one game and not on the buzzer either," the France captain said of her game-winning shot. "I think that if I do it again, I will miss. I think everybody hates me in London now."
The win leaves France top of the group with a 4-0 record, while winless Britain had been eliminated even before tip-off when Canada beat Brazil 79-73 to claim the final quarter-final berth earlier in the afternoon.
The result was known long before Britain started, but Julie Page insisted it had no impact on their approach to the game.
"We saw the Canada result, and obviously it's disappointing for us that they won, but you have to take it for what it is," she said. "This is an experience. You can't just say, 'Oh, we've no chance of qualifying so let's go home'. We're still here, we're still competing in these Olympics. Every second still counts."