Recap: Ireland U20W 41-81 Montenegro

Recap: Ireland U20W 41-81 Montenegro

  • Jul 11,2016
Monday, July 11

FIBA U20 Women’s Championships – Montenegro

Ireland 41, Montenegro 81

IRELAND'S U-20 Women were unable to recover from a dominant second-quarter display by the host nation - and a suffocating Montenegrin press in Podgorica on Monday evening.

In a high-tempo, physical game, the women in green traded baskets early with Montenegro in this Group D encounter.

Holli Dunne finished strong with her left hand after Aoife Whelan found her in the lane having broken a Montenegrin trap at the top of the key.

ITC player Dunne then drained a three pointer from the left side after, this time, Kate O'Flaherty had kicked the ball out of a double team.

Ireland led 5-2 at this stage but the hosts soon began to gain the upper hand on the boards and the tone for the evening was set.

Bojana Kovacevic nabbed 11 first-half rebounds despite the close attention of Sarah Kenny who, herself, grabbed a half dozen boards in the opening 20 minutes.

Montenegro went on a 14-5 run after Ireland's initial opening burst to end the first period up 16-10 with the Irish women battling them every step of the way.

It was that over-powering second quarter that broke the game open for the home side.

Their inside presence and the eye-catching ball-handling of Bozica Mujovic saw them sweep to a 42-20 lead and leave Emer Foley's side with a mountain to climb.

Nadine Rice came off the bench to provide an offensive spark for Ireland, the Muckno Laker bagged 12 points in just 13½ minutes on the floor as the visitors searched for a way back into the game.

Montenegro were in no mood to cough up their sizable lead in front of their own fans however and, behind 14 points from Milena Bajic - and yet more Kovacevic rebounding - they held Ireland at bay.

The score after three quarters was 64-29 as Ireland struggled to find their shooting touch, hitting just 25% from the field on the night.

The Irish women never took their foot off the gas however and, with Rice proving a handful in the paint, Princess Adeogun providing energy off the bench and Glanmire player Kenny remaining a terror on the boards, they kept the classy Montenegrin side up to their work until the final bell.

Team manager Noreen O'Connell was understandably disappointed with the result afterwards but admitted her side have been dealt a tough hand in a strong group.

"We're haunted with the group we got, to be honest. Slovenia and Montenegro are both pushing to get into the 'A' championship so they're all out to win here. Montenegro are a very good side," she told Basketball Ireland.

"We started brilliantly. Great defensive effort. Our guards, Ruth Leavey, Megan Connolly and Caoimhe Moore, helped stop their No. 11 (Mujovic) in the early stages.

"But we did lose our way a little bit and they hurt us on transition. We switched to a 3-2 zone on defence having started in a box-and-1 but that didn't help much and we went back.

"We had terrific efforts from our girls. Sarah Kenny and Nadine Rice - who top-scored for us - worked very hard inside... but the fact is you cannot win at this level scoring 41 points and only shooting 25 per cent from the floor, so there is certainly plenty we can improve on."

IRELAND: Ruth Leavey* (0), Aoife Whelan* (5), Sarah Kenny* (2), Holli Dunne* (7), Kate O'Flaherty* (8), Megan Connolly (2), Princess Adeogun (0), Nadine Rice (12), Caoimhe Moore (3), Ciara McCarthy (2), Hannah McCarthy (0).

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