Russia survived a late surge by France to win 66-59 in the first semi-final and make absolutely certain of a medal at the U16 European Championship Women 2010.
Russia was in control of the game for 35 minutes but then France started a comeback and nearly stole the game out of Russia's hands. But in the dramatic last two minutes the Russians prevailed.
Anna Shchetina posted a big double double with 19 points and 15 rebounds. Overall Russia out-rebounded France 53-37. Head Coach Elena Shulzhenko was relieved after the game was over.
"Even when we led by 16 points we knew this wouldn't be an easy game," she pointed out after the game. "The first task for us was to stop France's offense. We achieved this goal."
Russia was the better team from the onset. Their intense defensive work caused a lot of trouble to the French who had a hard time to find good looks to the basket and their field goal percentage reached a horrid 8.3 percent in the opening quarter. Russia controlled the game and held an 18-7 advantage after ten minutes.
France's offensive woes continued in the second period. At the break, Russia was up 29-18.
A glimmer of hope for France started glowing a bit lighter in the third quarter. They trimmed the deficit back to single digits. But Russia, who remained in control of the boards too the lead back to 13 points (47-34) after thirty minutes.
France started to a full court press defence in the fourth period and that helped them offensively as they narrowed the gap point by point. A three pointer from Lidjja Turcinovic brought them back within striking distance for the first time since the game started (56-54) and they eventually tied the game at 59-59.
But in a hectic last minute saw Russia securing the game from the charity strip and a place in tomorrow's title game.
"We have a certain silver medal, why not try to go for gold tomorrow," said Shulzhenko.