Spain rode a dominant display from their backcourt to overcome Serbia & Montenegro in the second semi-final of the European Championship for U18 Women.
Guards Silvia Dominguez and Anna Cruz turned in great performances at both ends of the court to guide Spain to victory.
The duo made their outside shots against Serbia & Montenegro’s zone defense and penetrated when they switched back to man. On defense, they caused havoc among the Serb & Montenegrin guards and came up with a combined 8 steals.
It took 3 quarters before Spain really found their feet. Serbia & Montenegro were the stronger team in the first half, and early in the third, led by 8 points, 40:32.
It was at that point that Spain rallied and a 3-pointer from Sara Gomez ignited their comeback. Dominguez added another 3 to cut the score to three and then came up with the highlight of the game to cut Serbia & Montenegro’s lead to 1.
First she stole the ball at halfcourt, but slipped and fell to her knees as she headed back downcourt. From her position on the floor she was somehow able to loop a pass over the Serb & Montenegrin defense which found Gomez for an uncontested lay-up.
Into the fourth, Adrijana Knezevic’s basket tied the scores at 47:47. It proved to be Serbia & Montenegro’s last significant 2-points of the game.
Another 3-pointer from Gomez gave Spain a 50:47 lead and Serbia & Montenegro were suddenly under pressure, exacerbated by the fact that they had committed 5 team fouls, to Spain’s 1.
The penalty situation allowed Spain the luxury of maintaining their lead from the line. Spain have shot just 62% on free throws for the tournament, but they made them tonight when it mattered.
In contrast, Serbia & Montenegro could not find the basket and when they lost their top scorer Jelena Dubljevic with a twisted ankle, their championship hopes dissipated.
Dominguez finished with 13 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 6 steals for Spain, while Cruz added 15 points and 2 steals.
Dubljevic had 13 for Serbia & Montenegro but was the only player to score double digits and the team shot 0/10 three-pointers.