Kozun Late Heroics Help Belarus Past Ukraine

Natallia Kozun grabbed two offensive rebounds off missed free throws and made two foul shots in the final 44 seconds in leading Belarus to a 56-52 comeback victory over Ukraine at the U20 European Championship for Women.

Kozun scored 13 points and had six rebounds as Belarus improved to 2-1 in the Qualifying Round Group F in Sulmona.

Tatsiana Likhtarovich led all scorers with 18 points for Belarus while Oleksandra Prystupa gathered 15 points and 16 rebounds for Ukraine. Olesya Malashenko struggled with foul trouble and was held to just eight points and seven rebounds.

The Ukrainians fell to 1-2 and still have an outside chance of advancing to the semi-finals as they face Spain on Wednesday while Belarus take on Russia.

The game opened with five lead changes until Ukraine used a 7-0 run to grab a 14-8 lead. Hanna Butsyanava nailed a three-pointer as Belarus trailed just 17-13 after one period.

Semen Khalipski's Belarus side continued to fight and knotted the game at 24-24 on a triple by Likhtarovich. But Arina Lysyuk answered directly with a three-ball of her own and Olena Samburska also knocked down a trey in helping Ukraine lead 34-28 at half-time.

Belarus used a tough defence and pulled back to within 36-34 midway through the third only to see Ukraine find their form again and score the next eight points for a 10-point lead, which was 44-36 going into the fourth.

Malashenko's score made it 48-39 with more than eight minutes left, but Belarus again threw down the defensive clamps and held the Ukrainians scoreless for the next six minutes in pulling even at 48-48

Alena Novikava was fouled shooting a three-pointer and made all three foul shots to give Belarus the lead 51-50 with 1:27 remaining. The teams swapped two foul shots before Novikava missed both free throws with 44 seconds left.

But Kozun grabbed the offensive rebound on the second Novikava foul shot and then Hanna Tsikhamirava was sent to the penalty stripe with 24 seconds left. Tsikhamirava made the first but missed the second only to have Kozun again hit the offensive glass. Kozun was fouled and made both free throws with 23 seconds left to finish the scoring.

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