Led by the trio of Tina Thompson, Diana Taurasi and Agnieszka Bibrzycka, Spartak Moscow took one more step to winning their first EuroLeague Women title after defeating CSKA Volgaburmash 90-76 in the first semi-final.
The three players combined for a total of 69 points as Spartak controlled the second half en route to an emotional victory in front of a sold out arena in Vidnoje, Russia.
Thompson was solid throughout and finished with 26 points.
Taurasi scored 20 points and helped Spartak pull ahead in the third quarter with a pair of three-pointers.
And then there was Bibrzycka, who was particuarly clutch in the second half.
|Amaya Valdemoro scored 26 for CSKA Volgaburmash.|
"It is very difficult to stop three players," said CSKA's Ilona Korstin.
"Thompson, Bibrzycka and Taurasi were too much for us tonight."
Leading 56-51 late in the third, Spartak took control of the game.
Bibrzycka hit a three-pointer and following a CSKA turnover, Bibrzycka drilled a transition three from the right wing to give Spartak their first double-digit advantage of the game, 62-51.
After Bibrzycka's threes in the third quarter, CSKA would get no closer than eight points.
CSKA got to within eight midway through the fourth, but Sue Bird broke the visitor’s momentum with a three from the corner and CSKA never seriously threatened from there.
"I am very proud of my team," said Spartak head coach Natalia Hejkova.
"We played good defense and most importantly we played together as a team."
It didn’t look promising for the home side to start the game.
CSKA Volgaburmash opened up on a 10-3 following Amaya Valdemoro’s three-pointer.
|Diana Taurasi made five three-pointers for Spartak.|
A Tina Thompson basket just before time expired put Spartak up 20-16 after one.
Spartak extended to a seven-point advantage in the second quarter, 34-27.
But CSKA was able to get within one, 38-37, at intermission thanks to Valdemoro’s two three-pointers and a pair of lay-ups from Wauters.
Valdemoro and Wauters were brilliant throughout for CSKA, finishing with 26 and 17 respectively.
But CSKA struggled throughout to find offense from other places.
Maria Stepanova, the 2006 FIBA Europe Women’s Player of the Year, was held to nine points.
She didn’t score her first points until the end of the third quarter.
"She is not in good shape and that is a pity," said CSKA head coach Igor Grudin.
"By the end of the game she started playing better but it was too late."
CSKA was plagued by 27 turnovers.
"I am very disappointed by the way our team played," said Grudin.
"But I think Spartak played very well and deserved to win."