Turning Point: The three-point shooting of Russia was always going to be a factor. So, when Ekaterina Fedorenkova, Alexandra Stolyar and Yulia Poluyanova made successive triples during the third quarter, it finally broke a desperately tight game wide open as Russia moved 44-34 ahead.
Game Heroes: Ksenia Tikhonenko produced her best game of the competition to lead Russia with 13 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks although the 12-point performance of Poluyanova shouldn't be overlooked.
Stats Don't Lie: Russia needed to take care of the ball and following on from their uplift in this area during their Quarter-Final, they only spilled it 11 times which was another vast improvement on the first couple of phases of the tournament.
|Ksenia Tikhonenko was dominant under the hoop, finishing with 13 points and a game-high 17 rebounds|
A stellar display by center Ksenia Tikhonenko lifted Russia past the Netherlands 73-55 and into their third successive U20 European Championship Women gold medal game.
Once Russia broke the game open, they never looked back and they now wait to see whether they will play Spain or Turkey in the Final.
The Netherlands managed to come out on top 19-18 of an entertaining first ten minutes, capitalising on Russia not finishing their chances at the hoop although both teams were making outside shots.
The second quarter witnessed both teams suffer painful scoring droughts, simply unable to get anything to drop at all - quite a change from the relatively free-flowing opening.
The Netherlands were first to hit a barren spell as Russia rattled off eight points in a row to move in front, the Dutch scoreless for almost six minutes as Richelle van der Keijl finally came up with a score to get her team rolling again.
Once the Netherlands rediscovered their scoring touch, it was the turn of Russia to dry up as they failed to execute in four minutes and it allowed their opponent to level matters at 26-26.
Eventually a beautiful slash to the hoop by Alexandra Stolyar and then a three-pointer by Yulia Poluyanova got the scoreboard ticking over and Russia took a 31-28 advantage to the locker rooms.
Whilst scoring was proving a real problem, at least both teams were not making any real handling errors and that was part of the reason for a real lack of easy score opportunities as defences remained rock solid.
After the break, Russia continued to convert from downtown and after three triples in a row, they moved into a double-digit lead at 44-34 to get the Netherlands on the ropes.
The Dutch then fought back to get within four points but with 2.6 seconds left in the period and the ball on their own baseline, Russia came up with the play of the game.
A beautiful full court pass found Stolyar who tipped it to a grateful Poluyanova who gleefully made the lay-up to maintain their advantage at 50-44.
They continued to execute throughout the final period as the Netherlands players struggled to impose themselves and produce the kind of scoring run that would have seriously tested Russia in the closing minutes.
Zera Butter led the way for Netherlands with 17 points.