Young Guns Carry Sparta&K Over Line

08.04.2014

EUROLEAGUE WOMEN

12. Ksenia Tikhonenko (Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje)
Young gun Ksenia Tikhonenko played with the head of a veteran to help orchestrate Sparta&K's first win of the week
Turning Point: Having squandered a 15-point lead in the second-half, Sparta&K endured a mammoth drought, failing to score in almost seven minutes during the final quarter when absolutely nothing was dropping. But, a technical foul on Kayseri head coach Ayhan Avci and the subsequent trip to the charity stripe helped them to break their barren streak.

Stats Don't Lie: Kayseri were a miserable 1-of-14 from three-point range and that, combined with Tanisha Wright going 2-of-15, was decisive. Although not many teams give up 24 offensive rebounds, shoot 55% from the free-throw line, give up 20 turnovers and still survive - Sparta&K did.
Game Heroes: Ksenia Tikhonenko posted arguably the most important contribution of her career with 15 points on seven-of-nine floor shooting and also grabbed eight rebounds. Playmaker Nika Baric also came up with a classy 16 point-performance.

Young guns Ksenia Tikhonenko and Nika Baric propelled Sparta&K M.R. Vidnoje to a hard-fought 55-48 success against Kayseri Kaski spor on the second day of the EuroLeague Women Final Eight.

In a bruising Group A encounter, Sparta&K weren't at their best and blew a sizeable lead in the last quarter, but managed to recover and bounce back from their day one loss to Galatasaray odeabank.

Unsurprisingly, it left head coach Alexander Vasin thrilled - even if it wasn't perfect.

He said, "I am very happy about the win and happy for my girls who showed great spirit and determination.

"It was really physical and a real fight, but our team spirit helped us.

15. Lara Sanders (Kayseri Kaski spor)
Lara Sanders gave Sparta&K cause for concern, spearheading a Kayseri comeback in the fourth quarter

"Yes, we got out-rebounded and had a lot of turnovers, but we kept the game low-scoring and despite our shortcomings, we managed to win."

Nika Baric was instrumental in the success for Sparta&K after top-scoring for her team. Following the game, the Slovenian confessed it was a big improvement on their initial outing.

"The first game was a struggle for us and I think we were a little too nervous.

"We were maybe a little too scared and not aggressive enough, but today we started well from the first minute and everything changed.

"It was a very difficult situation, when they came back in the last quarter, and it is hard to stop Turkish teams when they play like that.

"But, we were smart enough to get the ball to the right players and make the most of their fouls."

Sparta&K had raced out of the blocks and went 15-6 in front after a triple from Sonja Petrovic to close the first quarter, before tightening their grip at 45-30 after the interval.

However, Kayseri came storming back with an 18-3 run either side of the third and fourth quarter break and it looked like the momentum was with them. Lara Sanders was integral on the run, going on to finish with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

But Sparta&K managed to squeeze out the win thanks to Baric making a tough play with a minute remaining and then crucially making it a three-possession game from the free throw line, next time down the court.

 


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