Cras Basket Taranto prevailed over visiting Dynamo Moscow in a humdinger of a EuroCup Women clash on Thursday.
The Italians won the first leg of the Semi-Final 76-71, with Megan Mahoney, Suzy Batkovic, Elodie Godin and Michelle Greco excelling on the night.
Winning coach Roberto Ricchini will take his team to Russia next week for the second leg with plenty of reason to believe they can advance to the final.
|Anete Jekabsone-Zogota had 15 points|
The trio combined for 55 of the team's points, but Cras had too much class, and concentration on the night.
South Dakota native Mahoney led the winners with 19 points, while French power forward/center Godin contributed 14 and pulled down nine boards.
Batkovic also weighed in with 13 points and six rebounds.
Mahoney had seven points as Cras opened up an 18-9 lead with 4:30 to go in the opening quarter while a pair of Batkovic free throws gave the home side a 36-26 advantage with 7:39 to go in the first half.
A Greco (12 pts) jump shot lifted Cras into a 41-36 lead at the break.
Burse provided much of the firepower in the third quarter as Dynamo clawed back the deficit.
The Taranto team managed to keep their noses in front until 20 seconds remained in the frame when Burse drilled a jump shot to knot the game at 54-54.
She had eight points in the quarter.
At the beginning of the fourth, Jekabsone-Zogota gave Dynamo their first lead since early in the first period at 56-55 with a made jumper.
Burse was in a rich vein of form.
She followed with a jump shot and after Godin cut the deficit to one, Burse scored again to make it 60-57 in favor of Natalia Hejkova's Dynamo.
After Cras took the lead with two Mahoney free throws and a Godin jump shot, Burse struck with a three and then a jumper inside the arc for a 65-61 Dynamo lead.
Taranto refused to cave in.
Greco came to life, scoring on consecutive trips down the floor and after Jekabsone-Zogota put Dynamo back in front by one, Greco passed to Batkovic who drilled a jump shot for a 67-66 lead.
A Jekabsone-Zogota three knotted the game at 69-69 with 1:44 to go, only for Mahoney to bury a shot from the arc.
Neither side gave an inch.
Snell went to the other end and scored to cut the Taranto advantage to 72-71.
But Mahoney made two free throws and Greco hit a jump shot two seconds from the end as Ricchini's team won by five.
Snell's 23 points led all scorers while Burse finished with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Jekabsone-Zogota, the Latvia international, walked off the court with 15 points to her name.
Roberto Ricchini, Cras Basket Taranto coach:
"Thanks to our aggressiveness we were able to react in difficult times. Our girls were mentally strong. The decisive factor was our zone defense in the last period, which caused problems for Moscow. Next Thursday we will try to make it to what is a historical final for our club. But it's essential [to play] great basketball."