|13 July 2008|
Favourites Serbia lost control of their Group A finale of the U20 European Championship for Women and relinquished a 24-point second half lead in losing 66-59 against France.
The 2007 runners-up Serbia led 47-23 in the early stages of the second half but watched France use the three-ball to get back into the match.
Dragana Gobeljic's lay-up left Serbia ahead 57-46 only to have the French finish the game on a 20-2 spurt.
The result leaves Serbia and France even at 2-1 in the group. Jovica Antonic's Serbs will win Group A if Italy beat Germany in the final game in Chieti. And France are table-toppers should Germany upset the host Italians.
|Snezana Aleksic was yet again Montenegro's undisputed leader|
Sarah Michel knocked down four triples in scoring 16 of her team-high 19 points in the second half to lead the French comeback while Ana Cata-Chitiga tallied 14 points and Lorraine Lokoka chipped in 10 points.
Sonja Petrovic paced the Serbs with 17 points and Gobeljic had 14 points. Jelena Milovanovic collected 13 points and 11 rebounds but scored just two points after the first quarter.
With the game tied early at 6-6, Serbia took control of the game with a 12-0 run en route to leading 29-13 after one period. The Serbs put together another 12-0 spurt in the second period and were ahead 45-23 at the break.
Jelena Cerina opened the scoring for Serbia in the second half for a 45-23 advantage before the French mounted their miracle comeback. Michel knocked down two three-balls and converted a three-point play for 11 points in a 19-2 run to close within 49-42.
Serbia still held a 51-42 margin after three periods and it was 57-46 with seven minutes to play. But Michel drained another long ball and was later followed by triples from Ingrid Tanqueray and Carine Paul, the later of which evened the game at 59-59 with 1:50 to play.
Marielle Amant put back an offensive rebound to give France the lead and Michel's running lay-up made it 63-59 with 42 seconds left. And Serbia refused to foull late after Maja Miljkovic missed a lay-up.
Montenegro Through In Dramatic Style
Also advancing to the Qualifying Round were Montenegro, who beat Belgium 92-83 in Group D in Sulmona.
Snezana Aleksic collected 37 points, four rebounds, seven assists and six steals while Milica Jovanovic added 27 points and Marija Vujadinovic chipped in 14 for the U20 Division A debutants, who finished Group D in third place at 1-2 ahead of winless Belgium.
Sara Leemans led the Belgians with 20 points. Jasmina Rosseel and Julie Vermeire each scored 13 and Romina Ciappina had 10 in the losing effort.
The 2007 Division B champions Montenegro led 10-2 early as well as 18-9 before Belgium surged back to tie the game 22-22 after one period. The Belgians completed a 12-0 run spanning the first two quarters to lead 27-22. And Benny Mertens's team went into the break ahead 43-36.
The advantage grew to 11 points - 47-36 on Leemans's lay-up. But Aleksic and Jovanovic refused to go down without a fight and knotted the game at 57-57, and the contest was even 67-67 going into the fourth.
Rosseel's three opened the final period but Aleksic answered with a three-ball of her own. Belgium led 81-79 with three minutes left, but three Belgian turnovers and a triple by Aleksic and three-point plays by Jovanovic and Vujadinovic gave Montenegro the victory.