|18 July 2009|
France are heading to the Final of the U20 European Championship Women 2009 after overpowering Latvia 73-58.
These two teams had already played in the Qualifying Round, France coming up with a 74-65 victory by dominating the paint.
This game was no different. France's frontline players outscored their Latvian counterparts 34-9 while as a team they outrebounded Ainars Cuskte's squad 44-34.
|Mélanie Plust led all scorers in the semi-final|
Latvia insisted on trying to get points inside from their post players and drives to the bucket, playing right into France's hands. The French forced them into one impossible shot after another.
The combo of Doriane Tahane (8 points, four boards) and Ana Cata-Chitiga (11 points, 8 boards) held Latvian Power forward Anete Steingerba to 1-for-7 shooting for the game.
Elina Babkina led her team with 19 points, but the French defense held her in check early. She only shot 1-for-10 from behind the three-point line.
France were ahead 38-33 at the half, and Marielle Amant pushed the advantage to 25 (56-31) by notching seven points in the first five minutes of the third.
Alain Jardel's team then went to sleep and Latvia grabbed the opportunity, outscoring their opponents 13-1 to cut the lead to 13 (57-44) going into the fourth and breathing life back into the game.
"Latvia is a good team, they have good players and they play good, clean basketball," said Amant, who scored 15 points to go with 11 boards.
"I think some of us thought, well, we are up 25 points, but like I said [after the Quarter-Finals] we have to remember to play hard till the very last second."
France might have had a lapse, but they never lost their cool.
Shooting guard Melanie Plust (game-high 24 points), who had hit two big three-pointers late in the final minutes of these teams' first meeting, was there once again to guarantee the victory.
With Latvia at 11 points, Plust drilled a three-pointer with six to play.
Three minutes later and with the lead down to ten points, she came up big again, swishing a deep jumper to end any thoughts of a Latvian comeback.
France now await the winner of the other Semi-Final between Spain and Russia.