EUROBASKET WOMEN QUALIFIERS
|Simply unstoppable - Taru Tuukkanen finished with 25 points and 16 rebounds to propel Finland to victory over previously undefeated Latvia |
Finland knocked Latvia from the ranks of the unbeaten on Saturday with a 65-62 triumph in Vantaa.
The hosts' Taru Tuukkanen tore apart the Baltic side, scoring 25 points and grabbing 16 rebounds in the EuroBasket Women Qualification Round Group E contest.
The Finns, who had opened with a convincing win against Luxembourg but then crashed to a heavy defeat at Greece one week ago, started the encounter against Latvia as the underdogs.
The Latvians had prevailed in their first three games against Italy, Luxembourg and Greece by big margins.
Aigars Nerips' team seemed to be on their way to a fourth victory after going on top 32-22 with 3:47 remaining in the second quarter.
The Finns finished the half strong, though, and a basket by Tuukkanen reduced the arrears to 37-34 at the break.
The lead went back and forth in the third quarter before a jump shot by veteran guard Kristina Karklina gave the visitors a 49-48 advantage heading to the last frame.
The game remained close until the end.
With the score knotted at 56-56 midway through the final quarter, Finland's Dionne Pounds drew a foul and made two free-throws and then Tuukkanen buried a jump shot.
Latvia closed the gap to two points on two occasions, the second time at 62-60 on a jumper by Karklina with 18 seconds remaining.
Finland coach Anton Mirolybov called a timeout to set up the game-ending strategy and when play resumed, Latvia's Zane Tamane fouled Tuukkanen.
The 34-year-old center made one of two free-throws for a three-point advantage and that proved to be the final score.
Heta Korpivaara added 14 points for Finland and Tiina Sten and Pounds weighed in with 10 apiece.
Latvia lost despite a superb offensive show from Jansone, who made 10 of 15 shots from the floor and scored 24 points.
Tamane was an uncharacteristic zero of eight from the floor and didn't register a single point, though she did pull down a team-high 11 rebounds.