In their fourth EuroLeague Women final four in 4 years, Valenciennes were not to be denied a second title. The French side put on a performance for the ages, blowing by Polish team Gdynia with a clinical display of basketball.
Ann Wauters was once again the star for Valenciennes and was selected final four MVP for the 3rd time in her young career. She scored 17 first half points and finished the game with 22 points, 8 rebounds and 5 steals.
It was Allison Feaster who finally got Valenciennes on the scoresheet with a a baseline jump shot and it sparked an offensive explosion. Feaster hit 2 consecutive three-pointers and Margo Dydek replied with a three of her own to keep a slender lead.
However, an Audrey Sauret drive gave Valenciennes a 14:13 lead, and they never looked back. A 6:0 run gave them a 6-point advantage and at the end of the quarter they led 25:18.
Dydek began the second period by hitting 2 jump shots, but any thoughts of staying in the game were short lived. Valenciennes began to click on offense and defense and a 12:3 run gave them a comfortable lead, 37:25. When Feaster and Wauters hit consecutive three-pointers, it seemed as though it would be a long night for Gdynia. To add insult to injury, the French team ended the half with a lay-up from an inbounds play and a fast break bucket, halftime score – 51:32.
Some technical problems with the shot clock resulted in an extended halftime break and as the third period started, it seemed that the extra rest had helped Gdynia. The Poles were suddenly very strong on defense and Dydek was making it impossible for the Valenciennes players to go inside the paint.
However, Valenciennes regrouped, and some solid free throw shooting allowed them to retain a 20-point lead.
If there was any hope for Gdynia, it was quickly extinguished by Valenciennes at the start of the 4th quarter. They scored the opening 11 points of the period and the writing was on the wall. The lead ballooned to 30 and it was only some good play from Gdynia that kept the final advantage at 24 points.
As well as Wauters, Feaster and Sauret were outstanding for Valenciennes. Feaster made 4/6 three-pointers and finished the game with 22 points. Sauret concentrated on running the offense and chipped in 16 points, 10 assists and 4 steals. Edwige Lawson and Yerushia Brown can also take some credit for Valenciennes‘ fine defense and they combined for 11 steals.
Dydek was Gdynia’s top scorer (17 points) while Chasity Melvin (15 points) and Natalia Vodopyanova (10 points) also reached double figures.
Laurent Buffard, Head Coach, Valenciennes:
"We played with great solidarity and this win is the fruit of our work together. We wanted to win because of the loss last year and we also lost to Gdynia in the qualifying round."
"We really imposed our system on the game and played some wonderful team basketball. The 30-point difference also allowed our young players to get some playing time at this level, which is very valuable."
"This win is the result of our defense and the work we have put in. We were able to find our rhythm and controlled the game. It is also true that Gdynia faced a more difficult game than us in the semi-final against Brno, and they lost some energy."
"This is a great moment for our club."
"In France there are 2 competitions that we have to win, the league and the cup. Is there anybody who can beat us? I don't know, maybe Tarbes who we will play next Wednesday.."