|Point guard Roko Leni Ukic led the way with 15 points and Croatia finished the Qualification Round with a perfect 8-0 record|
Austria endured another frustrating defeat in the Qualification Round for EuroBasket 2013 on Tuesday at Croatia, but showed once again they are a much improved team.
Croatia, having already clinched first place in Group C, won for the eighth time in as many games in a 78-74 victory.
The home side went on top by 17 late in the first half with Roko Leni Ukic pouring in 10 of his team-high 16 points.
The Austrians, who went into the contest with third place already assured and a chance to advance to the EuroBasket Final Round, stormed back after the interval.
Trailing 68-58, Austria's Christoph Nagler hit two three-pointers and Davor Lamesic another as part of a 9-2 run that pulled the visitors to within 70-67 with 4:27 to go.
Ukic answered with consecutive lay-ups and Bojan Bogdanovic hit a pair of free-throws to push the Croatian advantage to 76-67.
Lamesic hit another three-ball for Austria and Jason Detrick scored with a driving lay-up to close the gap to 76-72 with 1:20 to go.
Austria had a chance to get even closer but Luka Zoric blocked a Jason Detrick lay-up attempt and then drew a foul before making two free-throws to push the lead back to six with 10 seconds to go.
Lamesic's lay-up accounted for the last points of the game.
Austria were left to rue their free-throw shooting as they made just 15 of 25 (60%).
The Austrians had wanted to win by a wide margin to improve on their 1.031 goal average, and hope that a host of other results would go their way so they could advance to Slovenia, but it was not to be.
Zoric finished with nine points, nine rebounds and also had the vital block for Croatia late in the contest.
"I think we did a very good job again. We missed too many free throws and open shots to finally walk off the court as the winning team. Anyway, I am very proud of my team that will have a bright future."
Croatia stand-in head coach Ivan Sunara
"We achieved our goal and finished qualifications for the EuroBasket with maximum points. I would like to congratulate all players, especially for their approach to the game."
Austria player Moritz Lanegge
"Another close game and a tough loss for us. The pick and roll situations with Roko Leni Ukic were hard to defend for us."
Croatia player Dario Saric
"We started strongly, led by 15 points, but allowed Austria to battle back and get close. However, we won and I want to congratulate my teammates and to thank them for the great experience this summer."