The Ireland Under 20 women’s team stormed through to the FIBA U20 Women’s European Championship Division B semi-finals this evening thanks to a thrilling 66-53 point win over Croatia.
The win saw Ireland top their group in Round 2 and advance through to Saturday’s semi-final where they will face Bulgaria at 3.30pm Irish time, with promotion to Division A and a medal all up for grabs.
Despite what the scoreline may suggest though, this game was neck-in-neck right up until the fourth quarter. The lead changed hands 20 times throughout the game in a pulsating and absorbing contest. Ireland had heroes across the floor, with a superb team display on defense shutting down the threats of Croatia’s sharpshooters Andjela Katavic and Karla Erjavec to see them score just a combined 13 points in the game. With stand-out performances across the court, some of the key performers for Ireland included Enya Maguire, who finished with 11 points, three rebounds, two steals, two assists, Claire Melia who notched another double double of 10 points and 12 rebounds, Sorcha Tiernan was also a stand out with 12 points, while Dayna Finn top scored with 20 points. Rachel Huijsdens and Annaliese Murphy were also key players in an all round superb display.
It was the fourth quarter where the game was well and truly won though, as the sides were level 14-14 at the end of the first, Croatia led 27-29 at the end of the second, while Ireland had just edged ahead at the end of the third, 49-46. A massive three pointer from Tiernan got the scoring underway for the Irish in the fourth quarter and this, followed by huge boards from Huijsdens, set Tiernan up for another score moments later to see Ireland suddenly ahead 55-48. The momentum was firmly in Ireland’s favour as Dayna Finn drove inside for two, while superb work from Maeve Phelan sent Melia through to the basket. Another huge three-pointer from Tiernan followed and it was game over, as Ireland powered through the remaining minutes to win out in thrilling fashion, 66-53.