Spain Made To Sweat By Italy

14 July 2009

Spain shook off a tough challenge by Italy to get a 75-59 win and stay perfect in the U20 European Championship Women 2009 Qualifying Round.

The final score is a little deceptive.  Italy hung tight through most of the game and a Giulia Gatti three-pointer got Italy to within one point (53-53) early in the fourth quarter. 

But then Spain put on the defensive clamps and performed on one of its patented runs that turned the game into a late route.

Jordi Fernandez's squad outscored Italy 22-7 over the game's final eight-and-a-half minutes. 

Five players got in double digits for Spain with Georgina Bahi leading the way with 14. Alba Torrens added 13 points to go with ten boards and six assists.

Erika Striuli scored 19 in a losing effort for Italy.

The Italians did their defensive work early fully aware that Spain had been deciding games in the opening stages by blowing them wide open. 

After one quarter Spain led by four (16-12).

The second quarter continued in the same vein- Spain leading, but the Italians cool-headed enough to stick with the plan and not letting the game get out of hand.

Spain did manage to open a ten-point breach on a jumper by Marta Xargay (11 points), but Nino Molino's team responded with a 6-0 burst sparked by a Martina Bestagno (7 points) field goal that brought them back to within four points (34-30). 

A last-second Tamara Abalde jump-shot that dropped through the net with :00 on the clock gave her Spain a 39-32 advantage going into the halftime break. 

The very same Abalde waited exactly one second to hit another jumper with 9:59 on the clock at the opening of the third. 

Spain broke out to a 15-point lead (51-36) on a Nicholls tip-in at the midway point through the third.

Once again Italy responded going on an 11-2 run and Cinili jumper with :03 on the clock closed the gap to six (53-47) going into the final period.  

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