|Candace Parker, with 17 points and seven rebounds, led UMMC past Galatasaray and a supersonic Diana Taurasi|
UMMC Ekaterinburg remained firmly in the hunt for first place in Group A of the EuroLeague Women with an 85-80 victory over visiting Galatasaray on Wednesday.
Beaten like a drum when the teams squared off in Istanbul back on October 26, UMMC were more formidable in front of the home fans as they improved to 7-3 and dropped the Turkish outfit to 8-2.
After giving up 14 points to Galatasaray's Diana Taurasi in the opening quarter to trail 27-24, UMMC settled down.
UMMC went in front and when Sandrine Gruda nailed a jumper with 4:20 to go in the first half, UMMC were on top, 38-33.
Candace Parker fouled Taurasi when her fellow USA international was attempting a shot from behind the arc and Taurasi made all three free-throws to reduce the arrears to just two points.
Sandra Linkeviciene, who joined the team from VICI Aistes recently was playing in her second EuroLeague Women game with the Russians, tipped in a Maria Stepanova miss and followed with a three-pointer as UMMC went in front by seven.
But baskets by Gala's Alba Torrens and Taurasi helped knot the game at 46-46.
Cappie Pondexter's jumper before the end of the second quarter gave UMMC a 48-46 lead at the break.
UMMC then landed some blows after the restart that put them in front to stay.
After Torrens scored on a fast-break to tie the game, Anete Jekabsone, Pondexter and Yelena Leuchanka drilled jump shots for a 54-48 lead.
Olga Arteshina added a free-throw to take the advantage to seven.
The hosts went on to outscore Gala 22-11 in the period for a 70-57 lead.
Galatasaray didn't disappear, though, but fought back to trail 82-78 with 1:37 remaining after a tip-in by Bahar Caglar.
Linkeviciene then had her shot blocked by Taurasi and Galatasaray had a chance to get even closer.
Caglar, with Tina Charles asking for the ball on the low blocks, elected to put up a jumper but missed and Pondexter rebounded.
She was fouled and made one of two at the line.
After Taurasi missed from long range, Torrens fouled Nolan and the American sank both free-throws for an 85-78 lead with 19 seconds left.
UMMC ended up winning by five with Parker's 17 points a team high.
Taurasi led all scorers with 28 points and Charles had 18.
Galatasaray Head Coach Ceyhun Yildizoglu
"In the first half we did well on defense. Our team played a little different game from what we used to and could score first 4 points fast. In the second half having lost 15 points we started to play strong defense and managed to reduce the score difference to 4. But in the end we committed a lot of mistakes and allowed our opponent to score easy points."
UMMC Head Coach Algirdas Paulauskas
"Our fans enjoyed the game. We could do better but started to rush, maybe because everyone got tired. We couldn't hold Taurasi from scoring so our main task was to keep everyone else from assisting her. In the first part they played good team game with Charles. In the second half, we managed to cover her and it was the key to our success."
Galatasaray player Isil Alben
"We played a good game, especially at its beginning, but in the first part 3 of our main players got three fouls so we turned to hard defensive game. Our team likes to play defense. UMMC is a high class team of good players. In the end we had an opportunity to win and we kept on fighting. We still have our best game to happen."
UMMC forward Candace Parker
"It was a big game and we did a good job. We felt good coming home after the game in Turkey. In the first half we played close by and the score didn't change a lot. In the second part of the game we manage to run the floor, got speed, moved fast and played hard."