Agnieszka Bibrzycka led the charge for a new-look UMMC Ekaterinburg on Tuesday as they routed ESB Lille Metropole in the second half to take a 1-0 lead in their eighth-finals play-offs tie of the EuroLeague Women.
The Polish international tore apart the French with 28 points, propelling Ekaterinburg to a 96-50 triumph.
Laurent Buffard's team, who lost just once in the group stage, encountered some stiff resistance early on but stretched a 20-16 lead at the end of the opening quarter to 35-23 by the break.
|Laurent Buffard hopes to have his team at full strength on Friday.|
After adding 10 more points to their advantage by the end of the third quarter, an avalanche of points buried Lille in the final period.
Abdou N'dyaye, the coach of ESB Lille Metropole, knew his players had been out-classed.
"UMMC is a strong team, they played with a good rhythm and we experienced that tonight," he said.
"We played well in the first half but the second looked worse. We didn't manage to do anything against Agnieszka Bibrzycka and other good three-point shooters from the Russian team.
"Their high percentage of three-point shots didn't do us any favors from a playing standpoint, nor our mood. The players started their personal (one-on-one) game and as a result, we were down. "
UMMC were a blistering 75% (12 of 16) from long range in the game, led by Bibrzycka's unworldly seven of eight (87.5%).
UMMC made two significant moves after the group stage, swooping for Belarus international Yelena Leuchanka and French sharpshooter Caroline Aubert.
Leuchanka arrived after just helping TEO Vilnius reach the eighth finals. She had the chance to join one of the title contenders and took the chance with both hands.
Aubert, meanwhile, signed for the remainder of the season from USO Basket Mondeville, a team that did not progress beyond the group phase.
UMMC did play this game without Australia star Penny Taylor, who was given permission to leave the club to attend to personal matters.
UMMC coach Laurent Buffard said after the game he wasn't surprised Lille had a tough game.
"Over the last 10 days," he said, "ESB Lille Metropole had three tough games against Fenerbahce, Bourges and UMMC.
"They played really well and worked hard. Today, the first quarter reminded me of previous games a lot but then we made all our shots."
Buffard was taking nothing for granted before the game and admitted he was uncertain how the team would respond without Taylor, the MVP on Autralia's gold-medal winning side at the 2006 FIBA World Championship for Women.
"I had some concerns because of the absence of Penny Taylor," Buffard said. "We also have two new players and they need some time to become a part of the team.
"However, I'm satisfied with their play.
"On February 12, the team will be complete. Penny Taylor and Deanna Nolan will come back and the team will look a lot different. "
That won't be good news for Lille, who got 16 points from Geraldine Robert.