Four Teams One Step Closer to Final Four
February 22, 2010
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Eight teams and five USA Basketball Womenís National Team members are still alive in 2010-11 EuroLeague action, however, four teams got one step closer to the Final Four today. In the quarterfinals, a best of three series, jumping out to a win in the first game is a huge advantage. Especially for the visiting team. In the four quarterfinals games played today, just one visiting team knocked off the higher seed and that was four-time defending EuroLeague champion Spartak Moscow Region, featuring two-time Olympic gold medalist and two-time World Championship gold medalist Sue Bird and 1998 USA World Championship Team member Taj McWilliams-Franklin. Spartak dealt a blow to Angel McCoughtry and Fenerbache, Fenerís first loss of the season.
Also earning a 1-0 advantage in the series were Candace Parker and Cappie Pondexter with UMMC Ekaterinburg; and Rebekkah Brunson with Ros Casares Valencia, which also includes USA Basketball vet Katie Douglas. Halcon Avenida Salamanca was the final team to capture a win today, but its international roster does not include USA National Team members.
The quarterfinals are played in a best-of-three series with Game 2 scheduled for Feb. 25 and, if necessary, the third game of the series will be contested on March 2. The Final Four is April 8 and 10.
No. 1 Fenerbache vs. No. 8 Spartak
Four-time defending EuroLeague champion Spartak Moscow Region (9-5) handed host Fenerbache (12-0) its first loss of the season in earning the first game of the quarterfinals series, 86-78.
†Fener ran out to an early lead and held a 25-12 advantage after the first quarter and by halftime had a seemingly comfortable 47-31 advantage.
Sue Bird scored five points as Spartak opened the second half on a 10-3 run that closed the gap to nine, 50-41, with 7:44 to play in the third stanza. Spartak continued to close in on Fener and at the third-quarter buzzer, Fenerís lead had dwindled to 64-59.
The Russian side continued to cut the gap and with 8:22 to play grabbed its first lead since early in the first quarter, 65-64. Both sides swapped leads and with 6:21 to play Spartak held a narrow 70-68 edge. For almost three minutes neither team managed to score, but a pair of Taj-McWilliams-Franklinís free throws broke the scoring drought †and upped Spartakís lead to 72-68. With Fener trailing 75-72, Bird nailed a three to give her team some breathing room, 78-72, with two minutes to play. From there, Spartak outscored the host team 11-6 for the win.
McWilliams-Franklin posted a double-double of 16 points and 12 boards to go with three steals, while finishing perfect at the line (6-6 FTs); and Bird added 12 points and three assists. †
Nevriye Yilmaz paced Fener in its loss with 24 points, nine rebounds and four assists; while Angel McCoughtry fouled out after posting nine points, six rebounds and three assists.
No. 2 Ros Casares vs. No. 7 Bourges Basket
Katie Douglas poured in 27 points on 12-of-21 shooting from the field to lead Ros Casares (11-3) past Bourges Basket (9-5) 65-58.
The hosts held a 34-20 cushion heading into the midway break, however, Bourges fired off nine straight points to open the second half and pull to 34-29. Douglas hit a layup to stop the bleeding at 7:02. However, Bourges cut it to a point, 38-37, and was still within striking distance, 40-39, midway through the period. Ros battled back, reeled off an 18-2 run that spanned the remainder of the third quarter and close to the first four minutes of the fourth, and with 6:12 to play, the hosts were in command 58-41. Bourges attempted to close the gap in the waning minutes of the contest, but time ran out as Ros took the win.
In addition to the 27 points from Douglas, Ros received 11 points and 10 rebounds from Rebekkah Brunson. Catherine Joens scored a team-high 18 points for Bourges.
No. 3 Halcon Avenida vs. No. 6 Wisla Can-Pack
Host Halcon Avenida Salamanca (11-2) stormed back from an early 21-15 deficit at the end of the first quarter, surged past Wisla Can-Pack (9-4) 51-35 by halftime and cruised through the second half for the 87-70 victory. Spainís Alba Torrens led the charge with 19 points and Brazilís Erika de Souza finished with 17 points and eight boards for Halcon. Australiaís Erin Phillips was Wislaís top scorer with 15 points, while USA Basketball veteran Nicole Powell chipped in 12 points.
No. 4 UMMC Ekaterinburg vs. No. 5 Cras Basket Taranto
UMMC Ekaterinburg (11-2) took an early lead and slowly pulled away from Cras Basket Taranto (10-4) for a 68-51 victory in the first match in Ekaterinburg. The teams will move to Taranto, Italy, for the second game on Friday.
Ekat never trailed, but Cras Basket wasnít easily shaken as the first half ended with the hosts ahead by just five points, 34-29. By the 8:07 mark of the third quarter, the visitors had knotted the score at 36-all on a Megan Mahoney jumper. However, Franceís Sandrine Gruda converted a 3-point play to spark a 13-2 run that ended with a Cappie Pondexter three at 3:43 and the hosts on top 49-38.
By the end of the third quarter the lead expanded to 13 points, 50-43. Ekat never looked back, outscoring the squad from Taranto 18-8 in the final stanza.
Grudaís 19 points led all scorers and Ekatís win was also aided by 16 points from Russiaís Olga Arteshina, 13 points from Pondexter, while Candace Parker scored 11 points, hauled in nine boards and dished out three assists.
Ekat dominated on the glass, 39-22, and shot 45.2 percent (24-53 FGs) from the field as compared to Tarantoís 36.5 percent (19-52 FGs).
Franceís Elodie Godin, who scored 16 points, Mahoney, 13 points, are hoping to turn things around in Fridayís Game 2 of this quarterfinals series.