EUROBASKET WOMEN 2015
|Stefka Miteva and Bulgaria have a comfortable cushion ahead of the return semi-final leg|
Bulgaria will take a precious 15-point advantage into the second leg of their semi-final tie with Poland in the EuroBasket Women 2015 1st Qualification Round, after clinching a 59-44 win in the first game at home on Saturday.
Forward Radostina Dimitrova converted her first four shot attempts from the floor to help the hosts grab a double-digit lead, 14-4, while there was still 3:38 left to play in the first quarter.
Poland cut the deficit to 27-19 on a Dominika Owczarzak lay-up with 03:25 remaining in the second frame, but went without a score for the remainder of the first half, allowing Bulgaria to take a 31-19 lead at the half-time interval.
Bulgaria's defensive efforts were already paying enormous dividends, as their guests made only 7 of their 27 shots from the floor (25.9% field goal percentage) and turned the ball over 10 times in the first half.
While the hosts came back from the locker rooms looking every bit as sharp, Poland's dry spell continued until Joanna Walich hit a three-pointer, their first basket in the second half, to reduce the gap to 35-22 midway through the third quarter.
The Poles finally started to look comfortable on the offensive end after that, improved their shot selection and committed no further turnovers, but it was simply enough to prevent the point differential from ballooning any further.
Bulgaria protected their lead efficiently until the final buzzer, thanks mainly to Dimitrova who led all scorers with 22 points on 10-for-15 shooting from the floor and added three assists and two rebounds.
Center Milena Tomova collected a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds while Stefka Miteva contributed 10 points and nine boards for the winners.
Magdalena Leciejewska finished with 10 points and six rebounds for Poland in a losing effort.