Johannah Leedham was a rebound short of a rare triple-double on Sunday
By Joe Hewison
Turning Point: Great Britain committed back-to-back turnovers to allow Croatia to cut the lead to just two with five minutes remaining. But Johannah Leedham, who was responsible for one of them, responded with a strong drive to the basket and then a nice pass to Kim Butler to stretch the lead to six.
Stats Don't Lie: With the teams so close in all areas Leedham's stat line of 26 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds was ultimately the difference between the teams.
Game Hero: Leedham topped Great Britain's stats in all areas but she also came up with some big hustle plays at important times.
Great Britain left France with mixed emotions, exiting the competition despite beating Croatia 85-79 to win a EuroBasket Women second round game for the first time in their history.The Brits' fate was sealed before tip-off when Serbia beat the Czech Republic but you would not have known that this game counted for nothing from the way it was played.
Great Britain closed the first quarter with an 11-0 run, which would be extended to 16, to take a commanding first lead before Croatia fought back to have the deficit at 10 (44-34) at half-time.
The same difference was carried into the final quarter (64-54) where Croatia pulled back within two. But Great Britain guard Johannah Leedham scored 12 of her 26 points in the final period to see the team over the line for an historic win.
Great Britain Head Coach Damian Jennings said: "We did make history today.
"As a Great Britain side, even though we don't progress to the quarter-finals, we belong in the second round of EuroBasket Women as we have our first win in the second round and we come out of this tournament 3-3.
"I think there were very few people saying we shouldn't have got this far."
Jennings also paid tribute to center Kim Butler, who scored 17 points in her final game, as she finally called time on her career having come out of retirement to play in this competition.
Butler hit some big shots, particularly in Great Britain's early 16-0 run that ultimately proved to be the difference.
But Leedham stole much of the limelight, missing out on a triple-double by just a single rebound (26 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds) and coming up with some clutch plays down the stretch.
For Croatia, it was time to reflect on a disappointing campaign as they finished bottom of Group F, a place below their opponents.
Croatia captain Andja Jelavic said: "In this game like every other game, except the first game, we had some problems mentally because I think we can play with all these teams but in the end we didn't show it on the court."