French side USVO secured third place in the 2006 EuroLeague Women Final Four on Sunday with a 77-62 win over Lietuvos Telekomas. It was the first Final Four appearance for the 3-time champions since 2004 when they were last crowned champions of Europe.
USVO took a beating in the semi-final against Gambrinus Brno, who held the French to a season low 54 points. However, against Lietuovs, USVO rediscovered their offensive touch, led by an outstanding display from Australian point guard Kristi Harrower who had a team-high 21 points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists.
"The way we played today was the way we played all year," said Harrower.
"We have to be happy with today, to finish third. Our goal was to make the Final Four. We knew we were good enough to make the final, but playing Brno at home was tough."
|Vedrana Grgin Fonseca was a force on the boards for USVO|
Lietuvos faced a shooting barrage from USVO in the first half. The start was a mirror opposite of their semi-final against Brno when they mustered just 5 points in the opening quarter.
Harrower had 17 points in the opening 20 minutes and Sandra Le Drean added 9 for the French who shot 6/9 from behind the three-point line.
"My father always says to me spot the ring and shoot it and I was saying that to myself in warm-ups and it worked well today," said Harrower, who finished 5/6 from behind the three-point line.
It wasn't just the outside game that was doing the damage, USVO's inside threat was also proving too much for the Lithuanians to handle. USVO grabbed 17 rebounds in the first half, with Vedrana Grgin Fonseca proving particularly effective with six boards, including four at the offensive end.
The only bright spark for Lietuvos was Katie Douglas who bounced back from a poor performance against Samara in the semi-finals to tally a game-high 30 points. It was Douglas who kept Lietuvos in contention in the first half with 14 points and the Lithuanians trailed by 11 at the half 44-33.
Lietuvos showed signs of life in the third period, and worked their way back to within five points, but USVO soon snuffed out any hopes of a comeback with a polished fourth quarter display in which they outscored their opponents 21-12.
For Harrower and Co the win was welcome consolation for their display against Brno.
"The thing that was dissapointing about Brno was we left our worst game of the whole year and if we play our best basketball we can beat anybody. We don't have superstars, we just have a team that works hard and plays well together and a coach that gives us a lot of confidence," she said.
Sonja Kireta added 15 points to Harrower's 21 and Fonseca finished with 11 points and nine rebounds for USVO.