EUROBASKET WOMEN 2015 QR
|Giorgia Sottana was the top scorer for Italy with 18 points|
Staring down the barrel of an unthinkable third consecutive defeat in Group C of the EuroBasket Women 2015 2nd Qualification Round, a relieved Italy escaped with a hard fought 52-45 success in Estonia.
In a defensively dominated contest when neither team were able to find their groove offensively, Italy squeezed out a precious victory to stop the rot after previous losses to Portugal and Latvia.
The visitors had enjoyed a perfect start after a score by Maria Laterza put them 10-2 ahead, although their early impetus was quickly blunted by Estonia's response which was a dazzling 20-5 run across the first and second quarter break.
After Maaja Bratka opened the second half with an ‘and-1' play, Estonia remained in the ascendancy at 27-20 and needing a response from his team, Roberto Ricchini got one.
Giorgia Sottana was at the heart of a 13-2 burst as Italy ripped the initiative back and it was to lay the platform for a stomach-churning finale with both teams trying to get to grips with the tension.
Italy continued their fine work and moved 45-41 clear after a score by Raffaella Masciadri, but were then left rattled as Estonia hit back.
But with less than three minutes remaining in the contest, Sottana scored five successive points to put enough daylight between the teams to get Italy a priceless win, with Lavinia Santucci making doubly sure by sinking a bucket with 20 seconds remaining.
Much of their success was down to their defence and not least Francesca Dotto. The young guard may have endured a torrid time like many others shooting the ball, but her super six steals proved to be the key number in the game.
Sottana claimed a game-high 18 points and Pirgit Püü had 15 for Estonia.