QUARTER-FINALSCroatia are still in the race for a medal at the U16 European Championship Women. In a finely balanced Quarter-Final they edged Belgium in the final minutes 56-51 win.
It was a battle of inside game versus outside game. Croatia searched for scoring chances in the low post while Belgium relied on distance shooting.
Long distance shooting was a successful recipe for the Belgians for 35 minutes, but in the end their 11 three-pointers in the game weren't enough. Croatia used a strong finish to race past their opponent. They outscored Belgium in points in the paint by 36-4!
Andrijana Cvitkovic scored 17 points while Iva Cigic contributed 11 crucial points. For Belgium, Camille Lebrun had a game high 20 points (6/10 from three-point range).
Belgium started the game well. They quickly found their rhythm on offense and defended well. They also showed signs of things to come by sinking four three-pointers in the first ten minutes. Croatia could not establish their usual offense game and trailed 4-11. However they worked hard on defensel which helped them reduce the deficit down to just two points at the end of the first quarter (12-14).
In the second quarter Croatia's offense started to warm up. They outscored Belgium 8-3 to take over the lead (24-17). Belgium quickly took a timeout to prevent their rivals running away. They hit three more triples in the second period to keep up with Croatia (7/16 from beyond the arc in the first twenty minutes).
Croatia entered the third quarter with a 30-25 lead. They couldn't find any offensive production in the first five minutes of that quarter though. Belgium closed the gap to a single point (30-29). Iva Cigic stepped up and scored seven points within two minutes to keep Croatia in front (37-31). Cigic's play inspired her team en route to a 41-31 lead. Belgium once again answered with three pointers and got back into striking distance with the end of the third period.
And they continued their hot shooting streak in the fourth. With yet another three-pointer Belgium finally grabbed the lead (45-47). In a hard fought battle Croatia answered with six straight points to take over once again. With two minutes left to play they still led (54-49). Belgium could not maintain their high shooting percentages in this crucial phase. Croatia looked to score inside which proved to e more productive.