|Seimone Augustus finished with 18 points, sealing the final score with a three-point play|
There was considerable relief and joy for Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje who found Rivas Ecopolis a tough nut to crack as they slipped past the Spanish club 70-68 to stay top of EuroLeague Women Group A.
Both teams headed into the contest off the back of losses to Wisla Can-Pack, and it was Sparta&K who avoided successive defeats thanks mainly to excellent contributions from Seimone Augustus and Candice Dupree who combined for 32 points.
Both clubs kept pace with each other for the most part during a tight first half, which the home team just shaded 35-33.
During the third quarter, it looked as if Sparta&K had finally managed to make a decisive and potentially game-changing run, when a three-pointer by the impressive Becky Hammon put them 53-46 to the good.
But, Rivas responded with an 11-2 burst either side of the third and fourth quarter break which left the home team stunned as Ziomara Morrison firstly tied the game, before handing her team the lead at 57-55.
Ultimately, it boiled down to who would execute more clutch plays, and it was Augustus who proved the game-winner.
Rivas led by a point with less than two minutes to play, but she came up with an and-one play to put her team 70-68 ahead and seal the game as the visitors blew their chance of overtime or a shock win by turning the ball over in the closing seconds.
Aneika Henry had 15 points and nine rebounds for Rivas.
Rivas head coach Miguel Martinez:
"Even though we lost I am happy and proud of my team. I had four players in double digits and that was mainly because they played as a complete team and they played with their heart. The decision making of the last two minutes might have not been the best but that happens many times when you play against a quality team like Sparta&k."
Rivas player Katalin Honti:
"I am sad because we lost but at the same time surely we surprised many people in Europe. Actually we were hoping to surprise them even more with a victory in the home of one of the better teams in Europe. I am very proud of my teammates and I can say that I did my share of this result. I am sure that we will continue playing well."
Sparta&K head coach Pokey Chatman:
"Our target was to keep our opponent to the mid-60s and I can say by keeping a good team as Rivas is to 68 points was a success. What was also important was that our offense worked well and that can be proven on all the open shots my players had. They just did not fall in today. All we have to do is to continue working hard and surely we will see the results of that work."
Sparta&K player Elisa Aguilar:
"I tried to put my emotions on side because after all last year I enjoyed a great year with Rivas. But Sparta&k is now my team and I did my best to help our team win this important game. We played good defense but we surely could have been luckier in offense. But in the last minutes we showed our character and helped maintain first place in our group."