|26 July 2008|
Lithuania raced to a 20-3 first quarter lead and never looked back as they routed France 68-45 to reach their first ever final at the U18 European Championship for Women.
Afterwards, assistant coach Dalius Ubartas talked about the keys to victory for his team.
"We studied France in their last game against Russia and we found the tactics we needed to put into action
against them," he said.
|It was a long night for Laurie Datchy and France.|
"We stressed defense to our players in preparation for this game and it worked out for us. We wanted to play hard defense and have it result in easy fast-break opportunities. That's what we got and now we're in the final."
Looking ahead to Sunday's showdown against Russia or the Czech Republic, Ubartas said both teams would make for a very tough game.
"They are both very talented teams with big and strong players. So we have our work cut out."
As for the significance of Saturday's win, the assistant coach suggested it had made the girls national heroes - regardless of the final's outcome.
"They have worked so hard to make it to the final that they will be respected greatly for what they did, even if we lose the last game. And head coach Ramune Kumpiene too. She has worked with some of these players for the last four years. She has led by example."
Lithuania asserted their dominance in every facet of the game right from the start and completely shut down France's offense, limiting them to just three points - all on free-throws - in the opening quarter.
The inside pair of Giedre Paugaite and Egle Siksniute proved too much to handle for their counterparts of Allison Vernerey and Maud Medenou.
The two Lithuanian giants combined for 20 points, nine rebounds, 6 steals and three blocks in the first half alone as Kumpiene's girls a 33-14 lead at the break.
France missed their first 19 shots attempts from the field and only got their first basket - courtesy of Vernerey - with seven minutes left in the second quarter.
Even though the French improved their offense in the second half, they had too much ground to make up against a team that was in control throughout.
France will face the winner of the second semi-final with a chance to take the bronze medal on Sunday.
Lithuania's Aurime Rinkiviciute led four players in double-scoring with 22 points and added nine rebounds and four assists. Maria Solopova had 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists while Paugaite finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Laurie Datchy was France's high-scorer with 14 points. Vernerey had 12 points and nine rebounds.