The U18 Women continued their winless start to the group stages of the European Championships in Sarajevo with a 58-75 loss to Greece. A victory was always going to be tough against a strong team that has now finished their group games unbeaten, but 13 points from Abi Lowe, 12 from Jo Lowry and 8 points and 13 rebounds from Chloe Gaynor got the girls within 7 in the 4th but that was as close as they'd come.
England looked well prepared and more than ready to match their Greek counterparts in the first, trading baskets in a high scoring 1st quarter. Timely 3 pointers from Popovic and Lowe kept Greece at bay whenever they looked to pull away. England also managed to get to the foul line 8 times in the quarter, converting 6 of their chances to keep the score close. The 2nd was the first time that the Greek team started to move through the gears. Things had started well as strong defence limited Greece's opportunities before a Harriet Swindells shot from deep took England into the lead at 26-25 with 6 minutes left in the half. That deep shot seemed to spur the opposition into life though as Greece went on a 2-10 run for the next 4 and a half minutes to push out to a 28-35 lead. A couple of extra points for both sides before the break left things poised at 30-37 going into the 2nd half.
(Chloe Gaynor in action against Ireland in game 1)
Like England's first game of the tournament against Ireland, the 3rd quarter was a pivotal one. Needing to cut the lead, the side got off to a slow start that hampered their chances. Adding just a point in the first 5 minutes of play, Greece padded their lead to 15. The girls fought hard for the remainder of the quarter though and began to find some rhythm. 3 pointers from Jo Lowry and Abi Lowe, plus contributions from Gaynor and Knowles cut the gap to 9 with a single possession left in the period. That possession provided a tough blow for England though as Greece nailed a 3 of their own to finish the quarter up by 12, 43-55.
To the credit of the England side, they came out hard to start the 4th and immediately hit back with a 3 of their own from Swindells. Some tenacious defence forced a number of misses from their opponents before Jo Lowry scored another basket to take the lead down to 7 with 7 minutes to go. Sensing a comeback, Greece started to attack, connecting on multiple 3 pointers to break the English resistance. A 48-55 score line ballooned to 51-69, a harsh passage of 3 and a half minutes that ended any hopes England may have had of a comeback.
The loss to Greece eliminates England from a potential top 2 place in Group C and a chance of promotion to Division A. Their final group game is at 15:30 GMT today against Macedonia. A win would see England progress to the classification games for 9th to 16th place. A loss would see the team move to the pool for classification for 17th to 19th. If England can win today they will play either Germany or Bulgaria in their first classification game at 15:30 GMT on Friday, but we will update fully once the group games have been completed.