BC Volgaburmash trailed for much of the game but once they got their noses in front of Dynamo Moscow, there was no stopping the defending champions in the opening leg of their Euroleague Women quarter-final showdown.
Maria Stepanova scored 25 points and pulled down 12 rebounds as Volgaburmash claimed a 74-66 triumph over their Russian rivals.
Stepanova, as is often the case, was sensational. She made nine of 18 from the floor and seven of nine from the free throw line.
Whenever Dynamo asked questions of Volgaburmash in the fourth quarter, it was usually Stepanova who provided the answers.
|Maria Stepanova justified her status as 2005 Player of the Year with 25 pts and 12 rbds|
The visitors gave themselves an excellent platform for an upset as they led the Samara club, who have just one EuroLeague defeat all season, by as many as 10 points in the second quarter.
Tammy Sutton-Brown's jump shot gave her team a 37-27 lead midway through the second period.
Samara came back, though, with an Ann Wauters field goal capping a 10-2 run to trim their deficit to 39-37 before Dynamo's USA international Diana Taurasi scored for a 41-37 half-time lead.
Almost two minutes into the third quarter, Russian international Ilona Korstin scored to give Volgaburmash their first lead at 45-43.
After Tatiana Shchegoleva pulled Dynamo level, Stepanova took her points tally to 13 by splitting a pair of free throws to put Volgaburmash in front for good.
Both teams hit a cold spell, but then Volgaburmash began to surge ahead.
With 4:46 to play in the third, Wauters' basket gave her side a 48-45 lead.
A three-pointer from Spaniard Amaya Valdemoro and a basket from France's Edwige Lawson left Volgaburmash ahead at 53-45.
Dynamo did not cave in.
Two Taurasi free throws with 1:47 to go in the third quarter capped a 6-0 run for them, but Stepanova swung the momentum back to Volgaburmash with a three-point play after being hit by Kamila Vodickova on a jumper.
Korsten, who is fronting the Year of Women's Basketball initiative for FIBA Europe, took the lead to seven.
Though she committed a cardinal sin by fouling Alexandra Latysheva when she was attempting a three-pointer - she made all three shots from the line - Volgaburmash continued to lead.
Four times Dynamo closed the gap to four points in the fourth quarter but each time Volgaburmash replied.
Stepanova, who is in the EuroLeague Women All-Star Game, twice scored to re-establish six-point leads and once split two shots from the line for a five-point advantage.
One reason why Stepanova & Co won this clash was their advantage on the boards as they out-rebounded Dynamo 40-29 for the game.
Stepanova did most of the damage but Wauters weighed in with 14 points and eight boards.
Oxana Rakhmatulina had 15 points in a losing effort.
“The game was extremely spectacular and surprising," said Samara coach Igor Grudin. "Shame on our first quarter! But we knew that if we lost that would be a catastrophe, and we did everything we could to come back.”
Volgaburmash can seal their place in the Final Four with a win in Game 2 on Friday in Moscow.
Dynamo did not play bad at all.
In fact their coach, Boris Sokolovsky, will be wondering if his team can play any better against one of the best teams in the world.