Italy Edge Turkey In Battle Of Defenses

13 July 2009

Italy edged Turkey 50-47 in a down-to-the-wire battle of two teams who put defense above all else, in Group E of the U20 European Championship Women Qualifying Round. 

It could have easily gone either way till the very last seconds of the game.

With 1:47 on the clock, Turkey's Dürdane Gümüsay (8 points) calmly made two free throws to tie the game 47. 

Then, Sabrina Cinili (10 points) hit a huge jumper from deep to put Italy up 49-47 with 1:07 to play.

After Martina Crippa saw her jumper bounce wide, Turkey had the ball and a chance to win or tie. 

But Crippa made up for her miss seconds before by blocking a three-point try by Gümüsay from the corner to seal the game.

"On the last play the coach told us not to foul and we played defense really well," said Crippa about her game-saving block.

"I am sorry for the injury [to Gümüsaywho went down on the next play, but later walked off the court], but we are really happy".

Crippa led her team with 12 points and seven rebounds.

After the game seesawed in the opening minutes, Turkey got out to an 11-point lead early in the second on a triple by Gümüsayfollowed by a lay-up by Yasemen Saylar (10 points). 

Crippa finally ended Italy's draught with a jumper at the 8:30 mark.  She then put the team on her back and scored ten in the quarter to get Italy to within four at halftime (30-26).

Italy head coach Nino Molino said that at halftime they made some defensive adjustments.

"We played man to man during the entire game, but when Turkey played pick-and-roll we played zone."

The teams continued to duke it out in the third, each siding playing tight, aggressive defense where every baskets had to be earned. 

Cinili, the author of the game winner, also hit two free throws to give Italy the lead with over five minutes to play. 

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