By Jeff Taylor
Spartak Moscow Region had to suffer but they won a fourth consecutive EuroLeague Women crown on Sunday by beating Final Four hosts Ros Casares in front of a EuroLeague Women Final Four record 7,800 spectators.
Diana Taurasi followed up her 37-point explosion against UMMC Ekaterinburg on Friday with a game-high 29 against Ros as Spartak won 87-80 (watch highlight video).
The American superstar was voted MVP of the Final Four, something that also happened last year when Spartak beat Halcon Avenida in Salamanca.
|Hosts Ros Casares had to settle for second place.|
"This is probably the sweetest of them all," Taurasi said of the title.
Spartak, whose owner Shabtai von Kalmanovic died tragically on November 2, wore t-shirts after the game that read 'This is 4 Shabtai'.
They had ample opportunity to fold against Ros, who were cheered on by a EuroLeague Women Final Four record 7,800 spectators.
Erika De Souza and Delisha Milton-Jones wreaked havoc in the first three minutes for the Spanish club, helping them build an 11-4 lead.
Spartak replied with a 9-0 run, one that was sparked by a Taurasi jumper - her first points of the game.
Marina Karpunina followed with a three-pointer from the left corner and the Russia international next added a lay-up to knot the contest at 11-11.
Janel McCarville then caught a pass from Sue Bird and made a lay-up to give Spartak their first lead of the game with 4:40 remaining.
That was a sign of things to come because McCarville would go on to turn in the most important performance of her EuroLeague Women career.
She finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds and might have earned MVP honors herself had she not had a brilliant teammate named Taurasi.
|Spartak Moscow Region Celebrate their fourth consecutive EuroLeague Women's title|
McCarville finished the first quarter with a tip-in to give Spartak a 24-23 lead.
With 6:39 to go in the first half, Spartak took the lead for good.
Irina Osipova followed up Bird's miss with a put-back and McCarville then added a jumper.
With McCarville and Ilona Korstin pouring in the points and Taurasi on the bench in the closing minutes of the first half, Spartak built a 49-39 interval lead.
McCarville left the court at half-time with a game-high 13 points.
When play resumed, Ros Casares made numerous runs and kept the pressure on.
Two De Souza free-throws and a Belinda Snell jump shot cut the gap to 57-56 late in the third quarter, only for Osipova and Korstin to combine for the last six points of the frame for a 63-57 advantage.
Snell's three-ball pulled Ros to within 63-60 but Korstin followed up her own miss for a five-point lead.
Amaya Valdemoro made an acrobatic lay-up only for Osipova and McCarville to answer with baskets for Spartak.
McCarville even showed her ability to bury the long-distance shot, drilling a three-pointer with 7:11 to go in the game for a 72-62 lead.
Ros got no closer than six points the rest of the way.
Milton-Jones had 13 points, Erika 12 and Valdemoro 10 for Ros.