Ukraine 78 - Slovak Republic 79
Both teams came into this game with one win and one loss, both knowing that the outcome could be decisive for the final placing at the end of the Preliminary Round. For much of the game it looked like the Slovak Republic would keep control but a last quarter comeback by the Ukraine brought an unexpected nail-biter finish.
Ukraine started stronger of the two teams and led at the end of the first quarter 21-16. The Slovaks eased their way back and evened the score early in the second. Luisa Michulkova had an excellent game for the Slovak Rep and led her teammates in the charge. The score remained balanced up until half-time and would have been tied had Michulkova not scored an enormous 3-pointer on the buzzer, 35-38. A quiet first half from Olexandra Gorbunova added to the lack of scoring from the Ukrainians – she only had 8 points after 20 minutes.
The Slovaks stepped up the defence after the half-time and Ukraine had problems responding. Lucia Kupcikova and Silvia Kloudova both had foul trouble and subbed off but Michulkova and Michaela Ivanova took care of business. Slovakia went up 11 points, which Ukraine gradually reduced as Gorbunova re-emerged. After 30 minutes the score stood at 55-56, but coming back after the last break Ukraine re-took the lead.
he game remained very balanced all the way through the 4th quarter, Gorbunova leading the Ukrainians and Michulkova replying for the Slovaks. With 7 seconds left the Slovak Rep. was up one and Gorbunova had the chance to win on a drive, but the ball rolled round… and out. Final score 78-79, with Gorbunova again topping all scorers with 30 points and teammate Ohla Krasnikova scoring 26 and grabbing 13 rebounds. Michulkova had 16 for the Slovak Rep., as did centre Anna Jurcenkova.
Poland 71 - Spain 54
In Group B Spain is having a tough Championship as they lost again today, this time to the ever-improving Poles. Poland showed from the start that it was the better of the two teams and although Spain opened the scoring, Poland were already well ahead after the first 10 minutes, 29-15.
In the second quarter both teams had trouble putting the ball in the basket, but Poland’s better rebounding kept them on top and coupled with a couple of great steals were able to stretch the margin by half-time. A 3-pointer from Katarzyna Krezel right before the end set the score at 42-27 as the teams headed to the locker-room.
Like yesterday, Spain came back much stronger and more motivated after the break and forced Poland to commit even more fouls through an aggressive offence. After 5 minutes Poland had already 5 team fouls and both Justyna Zurowska and Izabela Piekarska were on 4 each. The Spaniards started to claw their way back and with 3 minutes to go Spain had reduced the gap to 4, 47-43.
Poland kept fouling but Spain were unable to take advantage and couldn’t convert the free-throws. By the end of the quarter Poland had managed to pull away again slightly, 52-45.
In the final 10 minutes Spain lost momentum and Poland re-took control. With 3 minutes left the Poles were up by 12 points and the game was effectively over. Poland won 71-54, leaving Spain winless at the bottom of the group table.
Italy 56 - Russia 80
Italy faced a similar fate in the second game in Vannes - they went up against tournament co-favourites Russia and could do very little against the tight defence and talent of the Russian team.
Russia started as they meant to go on and even with normally starting guard Marina Karpunina playing very limited minutes due to the calf injury sustained yesterday, had built up a 15 point lead by the end of the first quarter, 10-25.
The second period continued as the first, with Russia assuring their position by half-time and completely dominating the Italian team from outside and especially in the paint. All 12 Russian players had seen court-time over the first half and at the end of time the score was 21-47. Marina Kuzina led the Russians with a double-double already after 20 minutes: 15 points and 10 rebounds.
In the second half Russia really eased off and Italy were at least able to rack up some points. They came as close as 13 points half-way through the 4th quarter, mainly due to Eva Giauro inside, before Russia changed up a gear and stretched the margin to over 20 once again. Final score 56-80.
Hungary 66 - Czech Republic 57 (OT)
Quimper saw a great game for the second match-up of the day: Hungary trailed for 39 minutes before coming from behind to force overtime and then finish victorious over the Czech Republic. The Czech’s took the lead form the start of the gamew, but mainly because Hungary were so unlucky under the basket. Several times the ball rolled in and back out again. At the end of 10 minutes Czech Republic led 17-21.
In the second quarter neither team could score, the first points going up on the scoreboard after 2 ½ minutes. Even then the scoring drought continued. Hungary went on a run towards the end of the period, led by Anna Vajda, however, Dora Horti missed 2 free-throws to take the lead. Hungary thereafter lost confidence and the Czechs took control for a 23-30 advantage at half-time.
Following the break little changed. The Czechs opened scoring with 2 free-throws from Darina Johnova but after that the ball went end to end. Half-way thorugh the quarter Czech Rep. extended their lead to 14 points and it looked all over for the Hungarians. Hungary pulled back to finish the period down 10: 34-44.
In the final 10 minutes of regular time Hungary received a lot of support from the crowd which lifted the players and gave them the motivation they required. They hit 3 shots in a row and suddenly it was a 3 point game, 44-47. Despite problems against good Czech defence, and 2 24 second violations Hungary pulled right back to tie the game in the final seconds, 54-54. Hungary even had a final chance right under their own basket with 4 seconds left but were unable to convert.
In overtime it was all Hungary. Nora Bujdosa hit 2 free-throws to take the lead for the first time and after that the Czechs simply had no more answers. Darina Johnova hit one 3-pointer buit that was all that the Czech team could score. Hungary went on to win on a series of free-throws. Final result 66-57.
Finland 51 - France 75
If France thought they would have a an easy ride in tonight’s game against Finland, they were in for a surprise, at least in the first half. The Finns fought tooth and nail for the first 20 minutes and wouldn’t let France relax or break away. Even when France had established a 20-point lead in the 2nd half they had to keep working to make sure the Finns didn’t find enough momentum to make a run.
France again experienced trouble playing against a zone defnce in the first half and it was only due to great play from Florence Lepron at point and Penda Sy rebounding inside that the French team had an 11-point lead after 10 minutes, 10-21. At the beginning of the 2nd period it took France 2 minutes to score before Floriane Herrscher stepped up and hit 4 points in a row. France then began to get into a rhythm and pick up a couple of steals from good defence, forcing Finland to turn the ball over again and again.
France kept up the pressure in the second half and really gave Finland a tough time in getting the ball up ht ecourt and anywhere near the basket. With 6:30 on the clock France had reached the 20-point margin and after that there was no looking back. Finland didn’t give up though and kept hustling, never letting France extend the gap by more than 20 and twice narrowing it to 15 points. France kept control and with contribution from the entire bench took the win in the end with a 14 point advantage: 51-75.
Floriane Herrscher topped for France with 15 points, Elodie Godin had 12 and 8 rebounds. For Finland Heta Korpivaara had 16 points and 9 rebounds.