Spartak Survives Late Ummc Ekaterinburg Reaction Aims Third Straight Euroleague Crown

Spartak Moscow Region 83 – UMMC Ekaterinburg 74

Spartak took the first important lead of the game thanks to an 8-0 run from minutes 2 to 4 sparked by a three pointer from fabulous Diana Taurasi and capped by another trey by Olympic runner up Lauren Jackson which put them 12-4 ahead with 5:55 remaining, leadint to a time out from Gundars Vetra. Taurasi, Olympic Champion in Beijing last summer scored 10 pts in the first quarter for Spartak.

Ekaterinburg cameback after the time out and scored a 9-2 run to reduce the gap with Spartak to just one point (14-13) and barely two minutes remaining in the first after a jumper from Olympic gold medalist Cappie Pondexter but Taurasi appeared then to give some rest to her team by stretching the lead to 16-13 and with both teams trading in the last minutes of the first, with Spartak up 21-16.

Sylvia Fowles (14 pts and 9 rebs in the game) and Lauren Jackson (11 pts) had to work undercover for the team the whole game but they made both paints their own and their teammates took advantage of all the work they did. The response from Ekaterinburg in the paint came only from Sandrine Gruda who had 12 pts and 8 boards.

UMMC started the second with a 7-2 run and levelled the score, 24-24, after only 2:05 with Penny Taylor scoring five points and leading the team, leading to a timeout from Laszlo Ratgeber. Taurasi and Fowles recovered the lead for Spartak –they reached the interval with 22 and 12 pts each- and the next tour minutes was all about trading but with an Ekaterinburg team struggling in the offense but not letting Spartak pull away, leaving a maximum gap of five points, 31-26, to slowly scratch the lead, with Deanna Nolan putting the team into one point, 35-34, with 3:30 remaining for the break.

Spartak missed then its offense and Pondexter regained the lead for UMMC for the first time since the first minute after scoring a three pointer, 35-37, Diana Taurasi’s teammate with the Phoenix Mercury lead her team on the court during the game, but the joy was brief since Sylvia Fowles would level the scores in the next play and the ensuing trade favoured Spartak that reached the interval 44-41 ahead after a buzzer beater from Fowles.

Agnieszka Bibrzycka kept her leading role on UMMC and put her team back in front, 46-47, after two minutes.

Tatiana Shchegoleva appeared then to Spartak’s rescue. The power forward answered UMMC’s baskets almost by herself and scored 11 straight points which made it 59-53 for Spartak. Ekaterinburg continued missing chances to take a clear advantage while Spartak stars didn’t. Diana Taurasi finished Shchegolevas huge work with a three pointer to make it 62-53 – the largest lead for Moscow’s outfit- with two minutes remaining and her team entered the fourth 64-58 ahead.

UMMC wasn’t ready to surrender so easily. Improved its defense which lead Spartak to commit mistakes while Sue Bird had to sit out after being stepped on her stomach while fighting a loose ball with Pondexter, added to that, UMMC also improved in the offensive end and Ekaterinburg put into one point, 67-66, after two freethrows from Penny Taylor.

But then Sue Bird came back to court and lead her team to victory.

Ekaterinburg one more time could not finís up the comeback and rushed again and $eattle Storm’s point guard brought her team back to life with a trey to make it 70-66. Taurasi also reappeared and made it six up for Spartak, 72-66, leading to Vetra’s timeout after five minutes. Spartak kept on struggling to score, but UMMC also did and the Moscow outfit iced the game when Taurasi scored an amazing three point play that made it 79-68 with two and a half minutes remaining to the end and her team controlled the game to the end, taking the victory 83-74.

Diana Taurasi had 33 pts and 5 assists, with Sue Bird having 17 pts and 4 assists, Sylvia Fowles adding 14 and 8 boards and taking 11 from Lauren Jackson.

For UMMC Agnieszka Bibrzycka lead the team with 23 pts, with Deanna Nolan adding 13, Sandrine Gruda having 12 pts and 8 boards and Cappie Pondexter having 10 pts and 8 rebounds.

Spartak was 20-of-39 in two’s, 10-of-20 in treys and 13-of-13 in freebies for UMMC’s 20-of-43 in twos, but only 5-of-13 in treys and 19-of-23 in freebies.

Photos Credit: Miguel Bordoy

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