Day 1 recap: Ireland lay down tournament marker, Kosovo upset hosts with dramatic game-winner
NICOSIA (Cyprus) - Ireland set the tone on the opening day at the FIBA Women's European Championship for Small Countries, while Kosovo upset the tournament hosts for a contrasting victory in dramatic fashion.
Alexis Tolefree had the final say for Kosovo with a game-winning three-pointer at the second attempt to secure a dramatic 70-68 triumph over Cyprus. The 22-year-old guard finished with 22 points in the win with Saranda Daci adding 16 points and 15 rebounds as the duo would combine for the crucial play at the death.
Kosovo rallied down the stretch as they overturned a six-point deficit at the midpoint of the final quarter, initially moving ahead through Tolefree inside the final minute before Cyprus answered as Petra Orlovic scored inside.
However, there was to be one final twist as Daci chased down Tolefree's wayward three on the next possession and found her teammate open in the same spot, and this time there was no mistake with time expiring.
Meanwhile, all 12 players were on the scoreboard for Ireland as they stated their intentions with a 104-33 rout over Andorra. Dayna Finn top scored with 14 points to lead the balanced attack with her side looking to improve upon their runners-up finish at the 2016 event.
Ireland wasted little time in asserting their authority and they gained complete control by outscoring their opponents 32-6 in a dominant second period to open up a commanding 42-point advantage.
The defense continued to restrict Andorra as they only allowed a further 15 points in the second half, whilst progressing beyond the century mark themselves - coming up with 26 steals in the contest.
Andorra were led by 13 points from 18-year-old Noah Mico Lorenzo and they have a chance to bounce back tomorrow when they take on Malta in their final Group A clash, while Kosovo will face Luxembourg in Group B.