Referees: Zoran Sutulovic (MNE), Borys Ryzhyk (UKR), Robert Lottermoser (GER)
Spartak Overcome Ros, Valdemoro
Spartak Moscow Region overcame a superlative effort from Spanish great Amaya Valdemoro to win the first game of their EuroLeague Women Quarter-Final against Ros Casares.
Valdemoro scored a game-high 20 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and came up with three steals but it wasn´t enough as the Russians held on for a 65-57 victory.
Spartak opened up a 21-13 lead in the first quarter and then threatened to pull away with a 10-5 run over the next seven minutes.
That gave the two-time defending champions a 31-18 lead with three minutes to go in the first half.
Valdemoro put the brakes on the home side´s surge by scoring four straight points, but Diana Taurasi scored a layup to give László Rátgéber's Spartak a 33-24 lead at the break.
Valdemoro put Casares on her back and carried them back into contention with nine third-quarter points. One of her layups lifted Casares into their first lead at 42-41 with four minutes left to play in the frame.
Isma Cantó's team trailed 47-42 going into the final quarter.
The game remained tight.
DeLisha Milton´s jumper cut the deficit to 59-57 with less than two minutes remaining.
Spartak center Sylvia Fowles responded with a three-point play as the hosts went into the final minute with a 62-57 lead.
With 34 seconds remaining, Valdemoro, who scored just one point in the last quarter, missed a three-pointer.
Lauren Jackson made no mistake and buried Spartak´s second three-ball of the game with 14 seconds left to play.
The Russians held on to seize the 1-0 lead in the best-of three series with Game 2 in Valencia on Friday.
Jackson led Spartak in scoring with 17 points.
The Russians finished 21 of 44 (47.7%) from inside the arc while Casares were 15 of 49 (30.6%). Spartak out-rebounded Casares 42-38.
Coaches Quotes-Spartak Moscow vs. Ros Casares
Lazlo Ratgeber (Spartak coach):
"We won a tough game against one of the top teams in Europe. We now have to continue our hard work so that we may accomplish what we have set from the beginning of the season, which is none other than to defend our title. Once more I have to congratulate my girls for a job well done."
Diana Taurasi (Spartak player):
"We played hard against a worthy opponent. We have to concentrate and prepare for the next game because we know that Ros Casares will again come out hard. I am positive that my teammates, as well as I, will be ready for Game two."
Isma Canto (Ros Casares coach):
"We lost a tough game which might have gone differently. I am confident that we will win Game two and come back to Russia. You have to give credit to Taurasi, Bird and Jackson for a good game."
Amaya Valdemoro (Ros Casares player):
"We played against a very good team and losing by eight points is logical. Now that we saw the game of the Spartak players I am positive that we will win Game two. What was worse today was our stats and especially our three-point shooting."