Cindy Garcia-Bennett, Novi Sad
Spain beat Lithuania 69-60 in Group E on Tuesday as qualifying round action got underway at the UMCOR U18 European Championship for Women.
The defending champions had to do without injured starlet Tamara Abalde but found in center Laura Herrera their guiding light.
|Aurime Rinkeviciute of Lithuania led all scorers with 19.|
Herrera had a team-high 16 points while Alba Torrens added 12.
The Spaniards stamped their authority on proceedings early on and went into the last quarter with a 56-33 lead but Lithuania never gave up hope and Aurime Rinkiviciute's three reduced their deficit to 11 (64-53) with three minutes remaining.
But they got no closer as Monica Jorge replied with five consecutive points to allow Spain to remain unbeaten in the competition.
Lithuania scored the first four points of the game before Spain got onto gear with a 13-0 run to take command.
It wasn't until midway through the second quarter that Spain pulled away with a 16-5 surge that saw them go into the break with a healthy 35-22 lead.
The Spanish kept up the intensity by outscoring Lithuania 9-3 over the next three minutes and went into the last quarter with a 56-33 advantage.
The team from the Baltics fought hard and gave themselves a chance but ultimately ran out of steam.
Lithuania were just 21 of 64 from the floor (32.8%), although Rinkeviciute finished with a game-high 19 points.