Defending Champions Squeeze Into Semis

24 August 2012

Turning Point: Spain took care of their one key defensive assignment down the stretch by denying France the option of finding Sara Chevaugeon during the last seconds of the game with the sharp-shooter having previously made a perfect three of three from downtown.

Game Hero: Point guard Mariona Ortiz was truly superb for Spain with 21 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and just a solitary turnover.

Stats Don't Lie: France shot only 31% inside and in a tight game, against a strong opponent like Spain, you need to finish around the hoop a little better.


8. Mariona Ortiz (Spain)
Mariona Ortiz had an outstanding game for Spain, contributing 21 points and eight rebounds

Spain dodged a major bullet to squeeze into the semi-finals of the U20 European Championship Women with a thrilling 55-53 success against neighbours France who could have easily been celebrating a win had Christelle Diallo converted with a last-gasp three-point attempt.

France had started in brilliant fashion with the first nine points of the game and as Sara Chevaugeon fired from long-range, they also had the confidence of a double-figure lead at 14-4.

Crucially, they were looking after the ball really well and with nothing easy in transition, Spain found it hard to ignite their usually lucrative running game.

But, the Spanish finally came alive through Mariona Ortiz who completed the fight-back by giving her team the lead.

Trailing 31-26 heading into the third quarter, France needed a good start and they got it. They also held Spain to just 10 points in the period and drew level 46-46 early in the fourth.

Spain then posted what looked to be a game winning 8-0 run midway through the last quarter but when coach Anna Caula sat down the outstanding Ortiz, France capitalised and replied with seven unanswered points.

It set up a fantastic finale with Spain 54-53 ahead and France with the ball and 14 seconds remaining on the game clock.

Diallo missed a tough jump-shot and after Laura Gil made one of two from the free-throw line, France and indeed Diallo had a second chance of potential glory, but it wasn't to be.




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