It's not how you start, but how you finish. And right now, Nadezhda Orenburg are finishing strong in EuroLeague Women Group D.
The Russian team won for the third time in a row and fourth in five games on Wednesday, beating French heavyweights Bourges, 66-64.
With 1:20 remaining in the game, Becky Hammon snapped a 60-60 tie with a three-pointer and then Shameka Christon followed with another shot from the arc for a six-point Nadezhda advantage.
Catherine Joens split a pair of free-throws and buried a three for Bourges to reduce the deficit to 66-64, and when Emmeline Ndongue intercepted Hammon's pass with 17 seconds to play, the French had a chance to pull level or go ahead.
That marked Ndongue's fifth steal of the contest.
But after a timeout, Belarus international Anastasiya Verameyenka picked off a pass by Maja Miljkovic for her third steal of the game and Nadezhda held on for a two-point triumph.
Tina Charles had 22 points and nine rebounds for Nadezhda, who improved to 4-4 in Group D and gave themselves a chance of climbing higher in the standings with two games still to play.
Bourges fell to 5-3 with the setback.
Nadezhda made the key plays late but they will know they dodged a bullet in this one because they blew a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter.
With 7:15 to go, two Hammon free-throws gave Nadezhda a 57-42 lead.
Ndongue then had a three-point play to ignite a 16-0 Bourges run that left Pierre Vincent's side with a 58-57 edge just 3:12 from the end of the contest.
Christon buried a three-ball and after Stella Kaltisidou knotted the game at 60-60, Nadezhda hit the big shots late and also got the game-clinching steal from Verameyenka.
Nadezhda finished eight of 17 from long range and 10 of 11 at the line but shot just 16 of 39 inside the arc against the tough Bourges defense.
Bourges out-rebounded Nadezhda 66-64 and pressured the hosts into committing 19 turnovers, six of them by Hammon.
Miljkovic, Kaltsidou and Joens each had four turnovers for Bourges, who finished with 15 as a team.
Styliani Kaltsidou, Bourges Basket player:
"It was a very difficult game. In the first half our team defended badly, later we started to play much better, but in the end we did not have the luck to win."
Pierre Vincent, Bourges Basket head coach:
"In the beginning of the game we allowed Nadezhda to play their game. Later we made adjustments and from defense we focused on offense and managed to reduce the deficit. Last minutes were very difficult, but we did not manage to snatch victory."
Elena Baranova, Nadezhda player:
"We needed a victory to stay alive in the group. Thee fourth quarter was a turning point in the match. Our team began to make mistakes under pressure from the visitors and our shooting percentage dramatically decreased. The ending of the game was very intense, but in the end we took an important victory, which improves our chances of getting into the next stage."
Alexander Yermolinsky, Nadezhda assistant coach:
"Initially, the match took place according to our scenario, but an ugly game from our part in the fourth quarter nearly deprived us of victory. Losing the initiative, we began to turn the ball over because of problems in defense; in the end they got back into the game. But our three-pointers in the last minute of the game sealed a much-needed victory for us."