By David Hein
Lithuania used a 14-4 run over the final five minutes to clinch second place in Group B of the 2007 EuroBasket Women with a 71-57 victory over Germany as Sandra Valuzyte led the way with 18 points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals and a blocked shot.
The 1997 title-holders, who finished the Lanciano group with a 2-1 record, also received 16 points and eight rebounds from Iveta Marcauskaite while Rima Valentiene added 14 points, four rebounds and four assists.
"We had a good start. We prepared for this game seriously. We knew we needed to win. Our team maybe in the end was the one who had more expeirence at the European and world championships," said Lithuania coach Algirdas Paulauskas.
|Linda Fröhlich led the way for Germany with 24 points and 11 rebounds.|
Lithuania played like a different team than the first two games, committing just 11 turnovers after having 26 and 21 against Belgium and Romania, respectively.
"The whole team was more focused after all the turnovers. We knew we needed to attack the basket more and we did that tonight," said Marcauskaite.
Germany dropped to 1-2 despite 24 points and 11 rebounds from Linda Fröhlich and 16 points and nine rebounds by Martina Weber. Germany made just 2-of-16 (12%) three-pointers and were unable to use a 41-35 rebounding advantage, partly because of 16 turnovers.
"Our goal was to take at least one point into the next round. It didn't work and it's definitely disappointing. Now we have a day off to analyse what we did wrong and learn from those things," said Fröhlich.
"The difference was our lack of experience. We make mistakes and lose games because of them."
Germany opened the scoring but Lithuania went on a 15-0 run to go ahead 15-2. Germany answered with the next 12 points and Marcauskaite's three-pointer gave Lithuania a 20-18 lead after one period.
Both teams battled in the second quarter, never allowing the other to pull away by more than six points. And Fröhlich and Weber combined for all 16 of Germany's points in the period.
But a long bomb at the buzzer by Valentiene allowed Lithuania to go into the locker-room with a 36-34 advantage.
The contest went back and forth in the third quarter as well, but Lithuania worked hard defensively against Fröhlich, who scored 19 points in the first half but none in the third period.
Anne Breitreiner scored seven points for Germany in the quarter only to have Lina Brazdeikyte, Egle Sulciute and Valentiene all hit three-pointers to carry Lithuania to a 51-47 lead going into the fourth.
Fröhlich's basket had Germany to within 57-53 about halfway through the final period. But Imre Szittya's team went scoreless for the next 3:35 and saw Lithuania put the game out of reach with a 9-0 charge capped by Ela Briedyte's long bomb and nine points by Valuzyte.
Fröhlich said the team's inexperience showed in the end: "Lithuania started to face-guard me more. And due to the lack of experience we turned away from our game plan. If we could have stayed in our system things would have been okay. But they threw some different things at us and it threw us off."
German coach Szittya added: "We played stupid in the last queater. We were unable to get the ball inside. Otherwise we missed some good shots outside. If you make only 12% from the outside you can't win the game because the other team will just collapse on your big players."
In the qualifying round in Vasto on Friday, Lithuania will face Baltic neighbours Latvia and Germany take on defending champions Czech Republic.