|It was another stellar performance from Elisa Penna on Friday night|
Italy will compete in Saturday's semi-finals at the U20 European Championship Women following a thrilling 73-64 victory over Russia in Udine on Friday.
Turning Point: There was no telling which way the game was going to go in a rollercoaster final period before Marida Orazzo and Antonia Peresson connected on two three-pointers in a matter of seconds to create the first real lead of the last 10 minutes.
Game Hero: Elisa Penna produced in the big moments for her team. She finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, with a number of her best plays coming when it really counted. However, any number of the Italian squad could lay claim to this title after a great team display.
Stats Don't Lie: Italy had made just three of their 11 three-point attempts before the frantic fourth quarter and equaled that tally in the final stanza, and it was such shots that gave them the edge.
The teams scrapped for superiority in an opening 10 minutes that would set the tone for the entire contest. But Russia entered the first break with a 17-11 lead after hitting all three of their attempts from beyond the arc.
Italy bit back in the second quarter, their emotional leader Penna prompting a 10-0 run that gave them a 25-22 lead and got the biggest crowd of the competition so far behind the home team.
But Russia continued to enjoy good shooting success and soon steadied themselves to hold a 32-27 advantage at the half.
Italy emerged for the second half with added energy and three-pointers from Ilaria Milazzo and Orazzo put them up 37-36. But Russia kept coming with more fine shooting from Julia Gladkova.
Where Italy were trailing their opponents in execution however they were doing their best to make up for it in endeavour and were within two points at 50-48 at the end of three.
The final period was a tense affair as the teams went blow for blow and the atmosphere grew with every score. It reached a crescendo following the back-to-back triples form Orazzo and Peresson, which opened a 67-62 lead with two minutes to play.
When Elisa Ercoli's block on Albina Razheva was followed by a clutch pull-up jumper from Penna, Italy began to expect victory, rather than just believe in it.
The hosts then closed in style, on a 12-2 run, to add a more comfortable look to the scorline.