Spain Narrowly Avoid Upset At Hands Of Ukraine

By David Hein
Marta Xargay made two free throws with 6.5 seconds left to give Spain a spot in the semi-finals of the U20 European Championship for Women with a 75-74 victory over Ukraine, who saw Olesia Malashenko's jumper with 1.5 seconds remaining bounce off the rim and out.

Xargay had 18 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals while Leonor Rodriguez scored 20 points and Vega Gimeno added 14 points for Spain, who will play either hosts Latvia or Turkey for a spot in Sunday's final.

Ukraine, who will now play for 5th-8th place, were paced by Olga Maznichenko with 24 points while Malashenko had 15 points, nine rebounds, two steals and three blocks; and Alina Iagupova collected 17 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists but also nine turnovers and just 1-of-11 from three-point range.

Ukraine jumped out to an 8-0 lead and retained the eight-point gap the entire first quarter, which ended with Ukraine up 27-19.

Spain finally took their first lead on Gimeno's three-point play to make it 34-33. But Ukraine led 43-39 at the break.

The Spanish played better in the third quarter but Iagupova, Yuliya Berezynets, Maznichenko and Kateryna Rymarenko all nailed three-pointers in the period to keep Ukraine up 61-57 going into the fourth quarter.

With Spain trailing 65-59, Rodriguez scored six straight points before Xargay knotted the game at 68-68 with a three-pointer. The gap was back to four points for Ukraine when Xargay converted a three-point play and then Rodriguez made a running lay-up for the lead, 73-72.

Maznichenko them made two foul shots, setting up Xargay's heroics and Malashenko's disappointment.

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