KLATOVY, Czech Republic — Germany opened the FIBA U-20 European Championships with two dominating victories, but after two tough losses, it needed help to get back on the winning track. Against Israel on Wednesday, Germany found the help it needed from Janna Graf.
Graf, a junior guard on the Yale University women's basketball team, came off the bench to score 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting (1-of-1 from 3-point range) with three rebounds, all on the offensive end, and two assists in 19 minutes of action. It was her best performance to date in the European Championships and it was exactly what Germany needed to take a 93-73 victory over Israel.
Graf was one of five German players to score in double figures. It was her first double-figure scoring performance of the tournament.
Graf entered the game with 4:59 left in the opening quarter and tallied an offensive rebound and put-back layup with 2:25 left in the quarter to give Germany a 17-13 lead. In the final two minutes of the quarter, she assisted on a clutch 3-pointer by N. Happel for a 20-16 lead and a layup by F. Schaake for a 25-20 lead. Graf's play in the opening quarter helped Germany close the opening 10 minutes with a 10-4 run that opened up a 27-20 lead.
Graf started the second quarter for Germany and gave her squad a jumper at the 8:07 mark to push the lead to 31-24 before she went to the bench for a breather. She came back onto the court after halftime and sank a layup with 3:36 left in the third quarter to cap Germany's dominating 19-2 run to open the quarter. By the time Graf scored on her layup, Germany had turned a 54-47 halftime lead into a 73-49 blowout.
Graf scored five consecutive points in the fourth quarter on a jumper with 7:54 left and her lone 3-point attempt of the game to put Germany comfortably ahead 86-61 with 7:11 left in the game.
In the five games of the tournament, Graf has averaged 4.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 0.8 steals in 15.6 minutes per game. She is shooting 10-for-23 (43.5 percent) in the tournament, including 8-for-15 (53.3 percent) on 2-point baskets and 2-for-8 (25.0 percent) on 3-point attempts.
Germany has three games remaining on the schedule, beginning with Friday's matchup with unbeaten Hungary at 10:45 a.m. EDT. The remainder of the schedule includes a 1 p.m. EDT game on Saturday against the host Czech Republic followed by a 8:30 a.m. EDT game against Bulgaria on Sunday to close out the tournament. The top three finishers in the nine-team tournament earn a promotion up to Division A. Germany currently rests in a fifth-place tie with the Czech Republic with eight points, but only two points behind Greece and Hungary for first place in the tournament.
Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity