Ann Wauters led the way for UMMC Ekaterinburg as they opened up their EuroLeague Women Group B campaign with a hard fought 87-73 win against plucky Gospic Croatia Osiguranje who managed to push the tournament front-runners hard during the early exchanges.
The Belgian star registered a perfect seven of seven from the floor 14 points and 6 rebounds in 21 minutes for the visitors although for long periods, Ekat struggled to dominate the home team who made life difficult for their more illustrious opponents.
Much of that was down to Maurita Reid who poured in 20 points on debut for her new team who left the visiting team reeling when they won the first quarter 24-22.
That fired up the visiting team who began to find some rhythm and even more noticeably, some defence in the second period when they outscored their hosts 25-15 thanks.
It was thanks mainly to a 9-2 run to end the half with a triple by Agnieszka Bibrzycka and an inside score by Wauters in the closing stages helping their team take an eight point advantage into the locker room.
When the teams re-emerged for the second half it was a case of déjà vu for the spectators when the same two players converted in exactly the same manner and that meant a 13 point lead for the visiting team.
That was still the margin at the end of the third quarter and while the home team battled valiantly, they were unable to haul themselves back into the contest as the class and depth of Ekat proved too much.
Sandrine Gruda weighed in with 17 points and 8 rebounds in just 19 minutes for the Russian club.
Gundars Vetra, Head Coach of UMMC Ekaterinburg:
"We knew that Gospić Croatia Osiguranje is a tough team so we prepared ourselves very well for this game. We had some problems in the first half of because Gospić Croatia Osiguranje played very well. But our strength prevailed and the Gospić players had trouble keeping up with us. At the end I am satisfied with the result and at the same time surprised with the strength of the Gospić team and I believe that good basketball is being played here. It is true that Gospić Croatia Osiguranje played in a different way than it is played in Europe, but this doesn't mean that this team is weaker - just the opposite, they are an excellent team."
Crystal Langhorne, player of UMMC Ekaterinburg:
"It was very pleasant for us in such a small town. But it was not that nice for us on the court because we had to work very hard in order to achieve a win. Gospić Croatia Osiguranje has several excellent players."
Stipe Bralić, Head Coach of Gospić Croatia Osiguranje:
"I am very proud of my players. They fought with all of their energy, strength and knowledge. During the entire first half we played equally as well as the opposing team. In the second half we lost our strength because we were not able to keep up with the level of playing that UMMC Ekaterinburg plays on. That is when our precision fell, but with the result of a 14 point difference, we are more than satisfied."
Jelena Ivezić, player of Gospić Croatia Osiguranje:
"Of course we respected our opponents for we knew what we were up against and how qualified these players are. We fought as much as we could. We lost, but from the beginning of the game we enjoyed playing against players of this quality. This game showed us that we can play with the best. I can hardly wait to play again against this team."