Slovenia Book Semis Spot, Write History

Slovenia wrote history in Poprad, Friday, when they held on for a 82-76 win over Lithuania to reach the semi-finals stage of the U18 European European Championship Women 2010 thus guaranteeing a top-4 finish by a Slovenian team for the first time ever.

In fact no other Slovenian women's team has ever before made it to the last-8 of any Youth age group, the previous achievement being a 10th place in the U18 Championship of 2002.

Nika Baric wrote 38 points and added 10 assists to lead her team. She and the rest of the group dedicated their victory to injured team-mate Tjasa Gortnar who left the court on a stretcher with a serious injury in the third quarter.

Gortnar played only 20 minutes before her injury, but still led Slovenia in rebounds (5) and was second in scoring (13).

Santa Okockyte and Paulina Zaveckaite scored 17 points each with 50 percents two-point field goal shooting each.

Lithuania had a better start, but lost their rhythm when Slovenia began to use full-court pressing and converted a few steals into easy baskets to gain a slim 20-19 lead.

Both teams traded baskets and turnovers and couldn't gain any significant advantage until Baric switched gear and rose to to the purpose. She scored a few baskets in transition and hit a
few three pointers including a halftime buzzer beater that gave Slovenia a 48-38 lead.

Gortnar's injury made rather than broke Slovenia. Lithuania reduced the deficit to 52-55 after Kriste Druskyte triple, but then Baric responded with an impressive run of her own, scoring ten points in five minutes to get her team into the final quarter with a 61-69 advantage.

With 6:22 to go in the fourth quarter Eva Rupnik was left open beyond the arc and she buried the triple to push Slovenia ahead by 16 points (63-79). Lithuania tried to respond  with 10 unanswered points behind two three-pointer by Druskyte and Laura Svaryte but Rupnik again fired from downtown to seal the historic win for Slovenia.


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