Samara continued their imperious EuroLeague Women season with victory in game 1 of their quarter-final play-off series with Ros Casares Valencia.
The Russian side have been particularly strong in Samara, and other than a 66-60 overtime win against Gdynia, have won their home games by an average margin of 43 points.
Valencia, however, proved a worthy foe and it was only in the final minutes that Samara threw off the Spanish side's challenge to claim their 13th consecutive EuroLeague Women victory.
A capacity crowd of 2,200 turned out for the game and when Samara opened with a 14-3 run, it seemed as though a walkover was on the cards.
Samara were able to keep a 7-10 point advantage and a halftime buzzer beater from Ann Wauters gave them a 36-23 lead at the break.
The rest worked in favour of the visitors and Valencia worked their way back into contention in the third period. The Spanish side opened the period with a 6-0 run and by the 30th minute, had reduced the gap to 6 points, 48-42.
Valencia continued their surge in the fourth and came as close as 3 points (49-46). With 3 minutes to go, Samara led 55-50 and Valencia would get no closer. When center Suzy Batkovic fouled out in the 38th minute, she took her team's chances with her and Samara completed the win.
Samara's dominance on the boards was a big factor in their win. Maria Stepanova led the way with 17 rebounds, and Samara out-rebounded Valencia 50-32. Ann Wauters top scored for Samara with 18 points, and Stepanova added 14.
Chamique Holdsclaw had 19 points for Valencia and Batkovic added 14 points and 12 rebounds.