|Julia Reisingerová came up big with a 19-point, 13-rebound double-double|
Turning Point: Karolina Maleckova's reintroduction in the third quarter. The diminutive point-guard is the team's captain, and she hit a three-pointer (only her second of the tournament) before a beautiful passing move where she fed Tereza Sipova who passed on to Julia Reisingerova. Then with the shot-clock winding down she drove fearlessly to the basket and scooped a shot in - suddenly her team were 10 points ahead, and the momentum of the game had shifted irrevocably.
Game Hero: Julia Reisingerova had too much size and skill for the Italian team to deal with, finishing with 19 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks.
Stats Don't Lie: Italy were restricted to 31.7% from the field, and the Czech Republic held a 15-6 edge in assists, reflecting their superior ball movement to find good shots.
The Czech Republic will take on Spain in the U16 European Championship Women final on Sunday after pulling away in the fourth quarter to take a 73-54 semi-final win over Italy.
Italy held a 35-33 lead in the third quarter, but the Czech team went on a 19-2 run to surge clear through a combination of strong defense and clever offense. Italy tried to come back but could not get closer than nine points as the Czech team held strong down the stretch.
The Czech team started well, with Julia Reisingerova's first score coming on a strong three-point play. Reisingerova was active on defense, challenging Francesca Pan's first shot, and she then turned provider to supply Tereza Sipova inside for an early 8-2 lead.
The game turned scrappy as both teams put everything into the battle, and Italy worked their way back into it, Rachele Porcu picking off Karolina Maleckova's pass to feed Mariella Santucci inside for a three-point play to reduce the deficit to one.
Giulia Ciavarella's stylish drive kept the scoreboard moving in the second period and Italy attempted to push, applying a full-court press. But Maleckova escaped and expertly drew the defender before dishing to Reisingerova for a simple score.
Karolina Fadrhonsova then twice found Reisingerova with lovely passes, but Santucci hit a three and Ciavarella again drove inside cleverly to tie the game, and the Italian zone proved effective in shutting out Reisingerova for the rest of the half as Italy took a 31-27 lead at the break.
Sipova scored off a strong offensive rebound and put-back before foul trouble became a factor, Petra Holesinska and Santucci picking up their third fouls and sitting. Pan had emphatic blocks on Sipova and Lenka Soukalova but the Czech team continued to work the ball well inside, Fadrhonsova finding Soukalova with another great pass.
Maleckova returned from her own foul trouble to begin the run which separated the two teams, and Michaela Matuskova hit a tough jumper as Santucci caught her from behind, the three-point play hurting Italy further as Santucci picked up her fourth foul. Reisingerova's block on Ciavarella completed a miserable quarter for Italy, who were held to just six points in the period.
Michaela Gaislerova's three-pointer from the corner increased the lead at the start of the fourth quarter, and any hopes Italy had of coming back were destroyed as Santucci was whistled for a fifth foul.
Pan's short jumper brought the lead down to single-digits at 54-45, but Fadrhonsova provided another fantastic pass, whipping the ball across the court to find Holesinska free under the basket. The scrambling Italian defense fouled her as she converted, and when their other point guard Porcu fouled out soon afterwards, the game was up.
Reisingerova's 19 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks were supplemented by 12 points from Sipova, and Holesinska added eight points, six rebounds and three steals.
Santucci led Italy with 14 points, six rebounds and three steals, while Pan could not repeat her magic from the quarter-final win, shooting 3-14 in the game. Italy will take on Hungary on Sunday in the bronze medal game.