SEMI-FINALSSpain moved into the title game of the U18 European Championship Women 2010 after a 77-46 result over Slovenia but the success was more hard-earned than the final margin of victory suggests.
Without injured Tjasa Gortnar it was always going to be a tall order for Slovenia as they didn't have the size inside to match Spain but, led by the incredible Nika Baric, they fought hard for 25 minutes.
|Elisabet Vivas led the Spanish attack|
Spain collected 49 rebounds against 28 of Slovenia and it was one the key factors for their win in addition to an effective double team defense on Baric in the third quarter.
Baric led Slovenia with 24 points, but made only one basket in the second half.
Marta Claret and Elisabet Vivas were top scorers for Spain with 14 points each.
Spain tried to escape early in the game, but Nika Baric responded with eight points of her own and Tina Jakovina hit from beyond the arc to push Slovenia ahead 11-9.
Coach Miguel Martinez Mendez used a bigger lineup to dominate in the paint during the first quarter when Spain outrebounded Slovenia 15-7.
Baric returned in the second quarter to spark her team in the offense and Slovenia regained a 31-30 lead after she converted a fastbreak into a three-point play. Baric scored 22 points during the first half including five of seven treys, but fell into foul trouble.
Spain used their long bench and managed to slow down Baric in the third quarter wihile a 11-0 run helped them pull away 51-36. Vivas' triple forced Slovenia coach Damir Grgic to call for a timeout, but it did not help as the Spaniards extended the gap to 20 points after Marta Claret made a jumper from the corner.
With no options on his bench Slovenia's coach knew it was all but over and withdrew Baric to rest her and avoid possible injuries before the bronze medal game Sunday. Spain continued to dominate at both ends and cruised to victory the rest of the way.