|Ilaria Zanoni sparked Italy as the Azzurre finished a successful qualification campaign with a win|
Italy finished their EuroBasket Women Qualification Round with a resounding victory at Finland on Saturday.
Led by 26-year-old Ilaria Zanoni, who had 21 points, the Azzurre romped to an 82-62 triumph in Group E.
Italy ended their campaign with seven wins and just one defeat.
The Finns battled hard and had a 21-16 lead with 1:55 to go in the opening frame.
The Italians reeled off the next six points to carry a one-point advantage into the second quarter.
Finland only faced a 45-41 deficit early in the second half after their scoring machine Taru Tuukkanen made a basket to take her points haul to 16.
Another Tuukkanen basket pulled the Finns to within 51-45 with 5:28 to go in the third quarter.
After the teams traded three-pointers, Raffaella Masciadri made a lay-up and Sabrina Cinili a jumper to push the Italians 10 points clear.
They ended up outscoring the home side, 24-16, in the quarter for a 67-54 advantage.
Italy's defense then reigned supreme in the fourth, limiting Finland to just eight points.
Roberto Ricchini's Italy lost their first game of the Qualification Round at Latvia but then won seven in a row.
The Latvians also booked a trip to the Final Round in France next year with a second-place finish in Group E.
Finland fought hard this summer but ended up with three wins and five defeats.
"We had already assured our spot at the 2013 EuroBasket Women but we wanted to finish with another win. It was a little difficult to stay focused in the beginning, but we did a good job once we got it going. We have a new team with some really young players who are together only for the first year, but if we practice well enough, we are going to do something good in France."
Italy coach Roberto Ricchini:
"It was our goal to finish well. We had the opportunity to finish 7-1 and we did exactly like we wanted. Almost every game in our group was really tough and that is a very good thing for our future. The first half was tough, but when we started to execute our defense, things started going our way. We probably had a deeper lineup than Finland and maybe they got tired when we got our things rolling."
Finland player Taru Tuukkanen:
"We wanted to win so of course it's tough right now. We had silly mistakes we couldn't overcome: we turned the ball over too much, didn't box out. But looking at the bigger picture, these were really good qualifications for our team. I believe we have improved tremendously as a team and I'm looking forward for the decades to come."
Finland coach Anton Mirolybov:
"It's frustrating when we play excellent defense but we let it all go when opponents get 2-3 offensive rebounds in a row. If we could have taken those rebounds, we could have controlled the first half. In the second half we started getting rebounds, but then we just threw the ball to the hands of the opponents all the time. We've had a brilliant summer but couldn't get what we wanted in the last game."