Sweden Late Spurt Beats Lithuania

25.07.2006

Sweden's dream start to the Umcor U18 European Championship Women continued on Tuesday as they kept their 100% record alive with a win over Lithuania.

It took Sweden a while to find their rhythm, especially at the offensive end, but a 10-3 run in the closing minutes eventually ended Lithuania's challenge.

Both teams enjoyed a day off on Monday, but it seemed to neither much good in a sluggish first half.

Frida Aili (Sweden)
Frida Aili
"At the start the players were a little bit nervous because in the first three games they didn't really have the chance to think about things, but now they had one day's rest," said Sweden head coach Mikael Johansson.

"But after a while they started to calm down and play basketball the way we wanted them too."

Both Sweden and Lithuania struggled with their shooting throughout and in a close, physical game, the difference between the two sides was always going to come down to a few plays.

In the end it was Sweden who found their touch at the right moment.

The Swedes have lived off their defense the entire tournament and have held three of their four opponents under 50 points.

Against Lithuania, it was once again the defense which proved to be the difference. They held Lithuania to just seven fourth quarter points, and the key offensive sequence came from consecutive steals that led to fast break buckets, the second of which put Sweden up 51-44 with just under 2 minutes to go.

Fatigue was also a factor, with the Swedish coaching staff trying to protect their starting five as much as possible.

"We tried to get our key players out to rest after they were on the court for long periods," said Johansson. 

"We wanted to give them 3 or 4 chances to rest and in the last 5 minutes they were a little bit fresher than the Lithuanians."

Kalis Lloyd was a force on the boards for Sweden and she grabbed 14 rebounds in just 21 minutes of playing time. Frida Aili top scored with 14 points and the Eldebrink sisters had 11 each.


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