Refuse-To-Lose Brno Beat Bourges In OT

11 April 2008

Gambrinus Brno rose from the dead to force overtime and then prevailed 90-81 over Bourges in the second semi-final at the EuroLeague Women Final Four.

The triumph means Brno will now take on Spartak Moscow Region in the title game on Sunday.

Hana Machová (Gambrinus Brno)
Hana Machová had only five points but played a key role down the stretch.
Spartak won twice against Gambrinus in the Qualifying Round.

Brno, who won the title two years ago in the same Sport Hall Vodova where this year's Final Four is being staged, trailed by 17 in the second quarter and still found themselves behind at 75-70 with 42 seconds to go after Bourges point guard Celine Dumerc made one of two at the line.

Eva Viteckova drilled a three-pointer to close the gap to two and tied the game almost immediately after a great defensive play by Hana Machova.

She stole the ball away from Cathy Melain and passed ahead to a wide-open Viteckova, who laid the ball up and in to level the scores at 75-75.

Bourges coach Pierre Vincent called a timeout and when play resumed, his team got the ball inside to Sonja Kireta who drew a foul from Machova with 11 seconds to go.

The Croatia center made both free throws for a two-point lead.

But just as she has done on so many occasions for Gambrinus and the Czech Republic, Machova made a big play.

She took the inbounds pass and dribbled the length of the floor before drawing a foul from Kireta as she went up for a lay-up.

Machova made both free throws to tie the contest at 77-77.

Bourges still had time to win the game, but they were unable to get the ball to one of the guards.

Instead, France center Emmeline Ndongue caught the inbounds pass near midcourt, dribbled around a defender and entered the lane before attempting a potential game-winning lay-up.

She missed everything, though, and fell to the ground while surrounded by Gambrinus players.

N'Dongue and the Bourges bench appealed for a foul but none was called and the game went to overtime.

Once in the extra period, Gambrinus' leading scorer Zuzana Zirkova hit a jumper, Machova split two at the stripe and Petra Kulichova buried a jump shot for an 82-77 advantage.

Ndongue caught a pass from Dumerc and scored down low and then had a chance to reduce the deficit even further but missed two free throws.

Gambrinus, who were an awful 13 of 23 at the line on the night, added to their lead with three more free throws and ended up claiming a nine-point triumph.

The Bourges players were excellent for most of the game but weren't able to close out the victory.

They lost despite a game-high 29 points from Belinda Snell. The Australia international had arguably the best game of her career, connecting on seven of 11 from three-point range.

As a team, Bourges were 12 of 25 from behind the arc.

The excellent Dumerc was also an impressive four of nine on her three-ball attempts.

Kireta finished with 14 points and nine rebounds.

Zirkova had 28 points for Gambrinus while Viteckova weighed in with 17 - 15 after half-time.

Her three-pointer from the right corner in the final minute may have been the most important shot of the game.

Now the Final Four hosts will attempt to do something they have failed to do twice already this season and that is beat defending champions Spartak.

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