Halcon Avenida gave a scare to Russian champions CSKA Volgaburmash, but Maria Stepanova and Co. delivered in the fourth quarter and came out 72-66 winners.
The home side got off to a blistering start behind the play of Nicole Powell.
The 189-cm forward made five three-pointers as Halcon scored an incredible 27 points in the first 10 minutes of play.
|Halcon Avenida scored 27 points in the first quarter.|
They led by double-digits throughout the first half and were able to take a seven-point advantage into halftime.
But things changed in the second half, thanks mainly to CSKA defensive efforts, particularly on Powell.
After her hot shooting start, Powell was held in check in the second half.
"In the first half I could score easy but in second they played better defense on me,” said Powell.
Halcon struggled offensively in the third quarter, scoring just 10 points, but they still clung to a four-point advantage going into the final stanza.
In the fourth, CSKA’s experience size proved to be too much to handle.
The combination of Stepanova and Ann Wauters controlled the paint and Halcon made crucial turnovers down the stretch that ultimately led to their fall.
Wauters and teammate Ilona Korstin each scored 15 points, while Stepanova tallied 12.
"I think we played against one of the best eight teams of Europe,” said CSKA coach Igor Grudin.
“They played very well in the first half thanks to Powell. Our experience was decisive at the end of the game. Games like this must be seen on TV."
The win was particularly special for CSKA’s Amaya Valdemoro, who finished with 10 points.
The Spanish star began her career with the Halcon before moving on to Ros Casares and eventually CSKA.
"It was very hard to beat Halcon Avenida,” she said.
“I knew that it was going to be a difficult game because the fans support with so much noise here Avenida. I'm happy to come back to the place where I developed in basketball."
Powell finished with game-high 22 points in a losing cause. A win would have made her performance all the more special.
“I'm happy but in the other hand I'm sad because this could have been a great day," she said.
Depsite the setback, Halcon coach Jose Ignacio Hernandez came away encouraged by his team’s valiant effort.
"What a pity. We were close to beating the best team in Europe,” he said.
“I think that stupid turnovers made us lose the game. I'm proud of my team, we fought, we play well, but we couldn't win."