Tatiana Shchegoleva poured in 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds as Russia triumphed 65-50 over Lithuania to book their place in the final of the EuroBasket Women.
Igor Grudin's team may have taken a while to flex their muscles in this tournament, but they did not hold back against Lithuania, who earlier beat them in the group stage.
Shchegoleva and her team outrebounded Lithuania 49-29 in the game, with 13 of those Russian rebounds coming on the offensive end.
The game was tight at half-time with the scores level at 31-31, but at the start of the second half, Maria Stepanova and Shchegoleva hit a 6-0 surge which lasted just over a minute and Lithuania never recovered.
|Tatiana Schegoleva (Russia)|
Stepanova, Russia's center and their most consistent player at the EuroBasket, buried a jump shot for a 33-31 advantage just 10 seconds into the third quarter, and Shchegoleva then scored her team's next six points.
She came up with a big steal and a lay-up, and followed that up with another fastbreak basket for the 37-31 lead.
Iveta Marcauskaite converted a three-point play to cut the Russians' advantage to just three, but Shchegoleva rebounded her own miss at the other end and laid the ball up and in, and Svetlana Abrosimova added a field goal to extend the lead to 41-34.
Russia, who are without veteran Elena Baranova in Turkey, lost twice in the group stage and did not look like the powerhouse team that captured a gold medal at the EuroBasket two years ago in Greece.
After entering the quarter-finals as the third seed, they laid waste to France and have now ended the gold medal hopes of Lithuania, while gaining a little revenge at the same time.
Rima Valentiene had 12 points to pace the Lithuanians, who will now try to win a bronze medal on Sunday.
The team's three-point shooting let Lithuania down in this game. They made just six of 27 (22%), but the big difference in this game was on the boards.
At least the Baltic country can console themselves with the knowledge they have already booked a place for FIBA World Championship for Women 2006 in Brazil as one of Europe's top five sides.