EDINBURGH (U18 European Championship Women) - Scotland’s Junior Women scored an historic first win in European Division B competition on Saturday with a 43-41 victory over Austria.
Experiencing their first taste of competition at Euro B level, the Scottish Women went into the tournament not knowing how the team would handle the step up in intensity.
That question was partly answered on the first day, when Scotland competed hard against powerhouse Slovenia before losing 69-50, and well and truly answered the next day, with a gusty win over Austria.
“It wasn’t a pretty game,” remarked Head Coach Donna Finnie, “but a win’s a win and we’ll take it.”
With both teams shooting the ball poorly the game turned into one of those who-wants-it-the-most encounters. Crucially the Scots made 21 of 28 free throws at 75% compared with 5 of 14 at 36% by the Austrians.
When asked if free throw shooting was the difference in the game, Scotland Head Coach Donna Finnie deadpanned a simple response: “No. Heart was the difference. We just wanted it so badly”.
Scotland’s interior players proved their mettle with a display of hard graft that would have pleased traditionalists back in Scotland.
Mairi Buchan was predictably a force in the game pulling down 14 rebounds and blocking 4 shots to go with 11 points. Rowan Bell step-up to lead Scotland with 12 points while grabbing 9 boards.
With both teams shooting poorly, and Scotland losing possession several times with turnovers, the rebound battle became more important than ever. That’s where inspirational point guard Annie Rowan proved the value of her strength and conditioning programme by muscling her way to 9 rebounds.
Simon Turner, from Basketball Scotland remarked, “We are delighted the Junior Women have proved their worth so early in the competition. Anyone who witnessed their preparation will tell you these Women have put their hearts into representing Scotland and worked incredibly hard on and off the court”.